Early in the spring of 2017 I had released an original tune I wrote nearly 10 years earlier titled Kentucky Proud. The track caught the attention of the Kentucky Departments of Agriculture and Tourism Commission, but what I didn't know was the inspiration the song was going to stir in the months to come. At that time James and I had been a musical duo for 2 years and we had quite a repertoire of original music under our belt...even so, we just couldn't come together on an album theme. Almost all of our original music was about love, whether it be heartaches or butterflies...and that could be a theme right? Well, it's also the theme of almost every other song and album out there and not that that is a bad thing, but for some reason it just didn't feel like the direction we should go in at that time.
It wasn't until a friend of mine, Langley Franklin, took interest in my Kentucky Proud song that things started progressing for our duo. Langley was super enthusiastic about a new and original song about Kentucky, so much so that he began getting gigs for us; including an appearance on Lexington FOX 56 news, which later led to a debut on Midday Kentucky (thanks to Brandon Elam!!!). Later when Langley heard our swing/grass style version of My Old Kentucky Home he suggested that we produce a Kentucky album. He sent a list of Kentucky classics that we could cover for the project and left the rest to us. Though James and I enjoy doing a few covers, we both agreed that there could be a lot of hassle cutting an album of other people's work... and we already had over 50 originals songs of our own...so, that's when the light bulb went off. Why couldn't we just write an album of original songs about Kentucky? We've both been Kentucky natives all of our lives, our state is full of interesting historical events and culture, and creating new music is a passion for our duo.
...and so that was the beginning of our Kentucky tribute album "Bluegrass & Roses". It was as if the stars had aligned and the dream of having a JOANNA~JAMES album was finally attainable. It just felt right. Within 3 months we had written 11 original songs about our beloved state of Kentucky and now as we put together the final details of our project I can honestly say that it was worth waiting for. A Kentucky themed project was totally unexpected, yet has led JOANNA~JAMES on a path of musical fulfillment, as well as inspired a deeper connection with Kentucky audiences. There's no doubt this project was truly a match made in the Bluegrass!!!