James King is a musician with a sterling bluegrass pedigree. He was born and raised in the cradle of country music, southern Virginia’s Carroll County. His father and uncle were both bluegrass musicians, and had a band called The Country Cousins. King got his own start in the business performing alongside one of the all-time greats, Ralph Stanley.
So King says he was a little perplexed when a producer came to him with the idea of recording songs written by singers from a different musical tradition — songs like George Jones‘ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” King’s 2013 album Three Chords and the Truth is a collection of country songs about hardship and loss, revamped in a bluegrass format and sung by an artist who has seen hardships of his own, including poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, and divorce.
Morning Edition recently spoke with King about making Three Chords and the Truth, which is up for a Grammy. Hear the discussion at the audio link.