The Robinson Scholars Program will welcome two-time Grammy nominee Larry Cordle to campus for a concert on June 21 at 7 p.m. in the Singletary Center for the Arts.
Cordle is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter who also leads the bluegrass band Lonesome Standard Time. During his more than 30 years as a professional musician, the eastern Kentucky native has written or co-written numerous Top 40 country hits for a virtual who’s who of country musicians.
In addition to his concert performance, Cordle will also lead a workshop on songwriting and the business of music with high school students attending the Robinson Scholars Mission Appalachia summer camp.
“Larry Cordle is a true Appalachian treasure,” said Jeff Spradling, Robinson Scholars director. “We are thrilled that such an accomplished artist from the region will share his experiences with the students in our program.”
A native of Lawrence County, Cordle’s breakthrough in country music came in 1983 when he penned the number one country hit “Highway 40 Blues,” which was recorded by Ricky Skaggs. After that milestone, Cordle left an active career as a musician in Lexington to become a songwriter for Welk Music in Nashville.
Among his long list of writing credits are songs recorded by Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire, Rhonda Vincent, and Kathy Mattea. Cordle’s songs have been on country music records that have sold more than 55 million copies.
A major success for Cordle was inclusion of his song “Against the Grain” on Garth Brooks 1991 album Ropin’ the Wind, which sold 14 million copies and debuted at the top of the country charts.
Cordle’s bluegrass album Lonesome Standard Time received a Grammy nomination for best bluegrass album in 1993. The song “Lonesome Standard Time” became a hit for Kathy Mattea in 1993, reaching number eight on country charts. Cordle’s version of the song was number one on bluegrass charts and also receive the International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year in 1993.
In 2001, his CD Murder on Music Row was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Bluegrass Album category. His song by the same title was recorded by Alan Jackson and George Strait. It was a stinging criticism of country music’s move away from traditional hillbilly music to an urbanized sound. The song received the 2000 Country Music Association award for Best Vocal Event and was CMA Song of the Year in 2001. The lyrics lament “Old Hank wouldn’t have a chance on today’s radio/since they committed murder down on Music Row.”
In addition to his solid footing in the traditional sounds of country music, Cordle also recorded a bluegrass album of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs titled Lonesome Skynyrd Time that received critical acclaim. The bluegrass treatment of those southern rock tunes illustrates the progressive sound that Cordle has integrated into his own bluegrass music.
Cordle’s writing reflects his love of old time country music and his major influences, such as Carter Stanley and Bill Monroe. He currently performs as a solo artist and also with his bluegrass band, Lonesome Standard Time. His current CD release Pud Marcum’s Hangin’, is a showcase of his writing talent, with guest appearances by Del McCoury and singer/songwriters such as Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley, who have penned numerous hits and also toured with Cordle.
The Robinson Scholars Program’s Mission Appalachia Camp seeks to raise awareness among eastern Kentucky youth about the important historical and cultural contributions of the region to the state and nation.
“In the Robinson Scholars Program, we value our east Kentucky roots,” Spradling said. “We want our scholars to come to UK well prepared academically, but we also want them to be proud of their region and culture,” Spradling said. “Mission Appalachia will give our students an opportunity to learn about and celebrate their rich heritage through arts and humanities programming.”
During the camp, scheduled for June 17-22, 35 students will participate in a variety of classroom and hands-on activities to learn about the rich culture of eastern Kentucky and Appalachia. Participants will take classes in writing and Appalachian Studies, discover the extensive Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, and participate in workshops in art, music, dance, and storytelling.
Another important aspect of Robinson Scholars programming is community service. All high school and college participants perform community service to remain active in the Robinson Scholars Program. “We will work with our students at the camp to develop meaningful community service projects that use arts and humanities themes,” Spradling said.
The concert with Larry Cordle is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30, and seating is limited. Cordle’s performance will be held as a fund raiser for the Robinson Scholars Program and to raise awareness about the program’s mission. For more information, contact Jeff Spradling, RSP director, at 859-257-5230.