A life full of music. That’s the story of Ricky Skaggs. By age 21, he was already considered a “recognized master” of one of America’s most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and this 15-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label (Bluegrass Rules! in 1998, Ancient Tones in 1999, History of the Future in 2001, Soldier of the Cross, Live at the Charleston Music Hall, and Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe in 2003, Brand New Strings in 2005, Instrumentals in 2007, Salt of the Earth with The Whites in 2008, Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 in 2009 and Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved along with Mosaic in 2010), the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart.
2018 was a stellar year for Skaggs, with the addition of three more Hall of Fame inductions:the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, IBMA’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and country music’s greatest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame. Along with his three previous inductions into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame, all six awards display his ability to masterfully cross genres with versatility in styles and instruments.
The year 2020 saw Ricky receiving what his mother always wanted him to; his high school diploma. The school, Lawrence County High School in Louisa, Kentucky, bestowed upon him an honorary diploma for all of his work in music, even though it was just a little bit later than when his mother would have imagined it, almost 50 years later! Ricky says, “It was an amazing surprise and answered prayer of my mom. She wanted me to graduate before I went full time with Ralph Stanley on the road.”
Also in 2020, Ricky was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts for his contributions to the American music industry. It is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. As a virtuoso of the mandolin and fiddle, Ricky Skaggs creates and produces bluegrass music that preserves the musical legacy of the most talented artists of his generation.
Ricky Skaggs has often said that he is “just trying to make a living” playing the music he loves. But it’s clear that his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.