This article was originally published in our July/August 2021 issue.

Rhonda Vincent didn’t know she was poor. The little girl with the big voice from the tiny town of Greentop has long lived a blessed life, as far as she is concerned. She now lives in Rocky Mount, Missouri. But one special summer smack dab in the middle of her idyllic childhood, Rhonda got to invite a friend from school to stay overnight in her family’s one bedroom home.

“Usually, my dad would never allow such a thing, but on that particular day, he said yes,” remembers Rhonda, who now finds herself as one of the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. “When my friend went back to school, she told everyone that she had been afraid to go to our house because she thought the porch was going to fall in on her.”

The Grammy Award winner lets out a laugh, and then she grows quiet. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but I didn’t know that. We were happy.”

Indeed, the simple upbringing of the bluegrass legend has long been told in a somewhat story-like fashion, almost sounding too good to be true.

“Every night, we would have a circle jam at my grandmother’s house,” Rhonda remembers playing in the Sally Mountain Show family band those days. “We would all put the kitchen chairs in a circle in the living room and the same people would come over every night and play music.”

It was in that Greentop home that the family would also record their weekly radio show on a reel-to-reel recording machine that was always set up in the kitchen, ready for the family’s sweet harmonies. It was also there that they would listen to the Grand Ole Opry.

“Listening to the Opry on the radio was our lifeline,” Rhonda says, who released her new album Music is What I See in May. “It’s really the way we would get new material. We would listen to new songs, and my mom would try to write them down from memory. That’s why we didn’t sing the right words to a lot of our songs. There was no rewind or repeat back then.”

It’s these sweet memories of Missouri that Rhonda thinks about as she finds herself shining brighter and brighter in the spotlight of stardom. And it’s these sweet memories that she sings about on autobiographical songs such as “All American Bluegrass Girl” and a brand-new song called “I Miss Missouri.”

Rhonda says that Jeannie Seely, a fellow Grand Ole Opry member, had been working on the song when disaster struck.

“She lost all the lyrics and everything in her house during the Nashville flood back in 2010,” reflects Rhonda, who is scheduled to play at the Clark County Fairgrounds on July 17 and the Missouri State Fair on August 19. “But two months ago, she came to me and said she wanted to finish the song.”

That afternoon, Rhonda and Jeannie and fellow singer and songwriter Erin Enderlin went into a dressing room at the Opry, and together, they finished the song.

“Basically, it says that no matter where I go, the sights and sounds of Missouri are always with me,” Rhonda says. “And it’s the truth.”

Photo // LOZ Photography