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Gaining Wisdom

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Album Review

Singer and songwriter Donna Hughes makes her national debut with this very enjoyable album, Gaining Wisdom, produced by guitar legend Tony Rice and featuring a stellar cast of sidemen who include mandolinist Sam Bush, dobro player Rob Ickes and fiddler Ron Stewart, among others. The lineup might lead you to expect a relatively straightforward bluegrass album, but what you get is something quite a bit more complex — a really quite modern country album played on acoustic instruments, some of the songs (notably a fun arrangement of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and the modern but old-fashioned "Where Are You Darlin'?") heading off into traditional bluegrass territory but many others exploring more contemporary country styles. Hughes' voice is lovely, she's a very talented songwriter, and the arrangements are wonderful — the only thing one might complain about on this album is a certain emotional flatness in her delivery. When she sings "What I'm Looking For," it doesn't actually sound like she's been looking all that hard, and the hard-luck portrait "Bottom of a Glass" is sung in a strangely jaunty manner. Her affect seems just a bit off through most of the record, but it's still a very enjoyable listen and a promising debut.

Customer Reviews

You can't help but love it!

A true singer/songwriter with one of those rare voices.......

well-rounded album

I had never heard of Donna Hughes when I purchased this album, but I am glad I did! I love the entire album. Hold On, One More Time, and Sad Old Train are some of my favorites.

Donna Hughes is the real deal.

Contemporary Bluegrass at it's best. With guitar legend Tony Rice producing, this is as good as it gets.


Born: Trinity, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A singer and songwriter from North Carolina, Donna Hughes has become a respected name in the bluegrass community for her heartfelt and thoughtful songs as well as her subtle but commanding vocal style. Born in the small town of Trinity, NC, Hughes began playing the piano at the age of three, learning to pick out "You Light Up My Life" and "When the Saints Come Marching In." Hughes began studying classical piano with the help of her grandfather, and later took up guitar; she also became a pianist...
Full Bio
Gaining Wisdom, Donna Hughes
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Customer Ratings