In May of 2016, I was walking the streets of Asheville, N.C., when I unexpectedly came across Ty Gilpin of the Mountain Home Music label. While catching up on things, I had some fun with the fact that I had multiple IBMA nominations with no wins, calling myself the “Susan Lucci of bluegrass.” He said, “You’re the second person to tell me they were the ‘Susan Lucci of bluegrass.’ Do you know Donna Ulisse?”
Ulisse happened to be in Asheville that same day, securing her move to the Mountain Home Music record label. Fortunately for Ulisse, just four months later, she would win the 2016 IBMA Songwriter Of The Year Award. Then, at the recent 2017 IBMA Awards, Ulisse was called up to the podium again when her song “I Am A Pilgrim” (co-written by Marc Rossi and recorded by Volume Five) became the IBMA Song Of The Year.
On the heels of all of this success, Ulisse is now releasing her first-ever album for Mountain Home called Breakin’ Easy. The project is produced by IBMA Hall Of Famer Doyle Lawson. The first cut “Back Home Feeling Again” shows the influence of Lawson, who suggested that Ulisse’s wonderful and underrated singing voice and original songs be accompanied by (very) light percussion and the resonator guitar of 2017 Dobro Player Of The Year Josh Swift. Still, the bluegrass instrumentation and feel is always present on this sweet album. Other highlights include “Without Trouble Please,” the banjo-driven “We Are Strong” and the upbeat bluegrass love song “Made For Each Other.” (Mountain Home, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.mountainhomemusiccompany.com.)DH