It is always a cool thing when an artist who has been in the music business for a long time is suddenly “discovered.” In the bluegrass world, this is hopefully about to happen to Rebekah Long who, through her many talents, is no stranger to some of the most successful folks in the genre.
Long grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia near the famous musical kinfolk The Lewis Family and spent time touring and playing upright bass with Little Roy Lewis and Lizzy Long, Rebekah’s twin sister. She also played bass in Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike.
Rebekah was one of the first students to graduate from the Glenville State College Bluegrass Certificate Program after it was created in 2002. With a BA in Bluegrass Music and a BA in Music Education under her belt, Long immersed herself in the bluegrass business working as a recording engineer, graphic designer, video editor while also playing in various bands.
Collaborating closely with the legendary songwriter Dixie Hall, the late wife of Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall, Long was the recording engineer and graphic designer for the acclaimed “Daughters of Bluegrass” box set, also adding bass, guitar and vocals to the project.
Now, finally, Long steps in front of the microphone with the appropriately titled album “Here I Am,” a fresh solo take on one of America’s true original genres; bluegrass music with heart and soul.
“Here I Am” is an album filled with wonderful new original songs and some classics redone in the bluegrass style. Produced by the renowned singer-songwriter Donna Ulisse, the album features Long’s distinctive vocals and songwriting brought to life by some of the best musicians in the bluegrass genre.
On “Here I Am,” Long is backed by an all-star cast of session musicians who also record and tour with some of the top acts in the roots music world. The gunslingers that play on this dynamic new album include the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year Scott Vestal, five-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Mike Bub, two-time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year Jesse Brock, Grammy-nominated and IBMA Award winner Dustin Benson on guitar and the Grammy-nominated fiddler and Dobro player Justin Moses. Backing Long up on vocals are producer Ulisse and her husband and band mate Rick Stanley.
Out of the gate comes the rollicking opening song “Ain’t Life Sweet” that Long co-wrote with Ulisse and Stanley. The cut brings to life the everyday tales of those who live out in the country. Unlike many modern-day country acts who could not relate to the vivid imagery in this song, Long grew up in rural Georgia and knows plenty about the matters of this song. When Long sings about Papaw Davis clearing his throat to try and catch the preacher’s eye as he has preached “way past noon” and “it’s suppertime here,” or you hear the tale of Cleetie Mullins passing around a jug of moonshine that she got “from a friend, but we all know where Cleetie’s been, We keep some secrets here,” Long keeps it real.
Other standout songs on “Here I Am” include a soaring version of Cheryl Wheeler’s “I Know This Town,” which may be the break out hit of this album; the creepy and otherworldly murder song “Hairpin Hattie” penned by Long, Ulisse and Stanley; Tom T. Hall’s life-on-the-road story about the injustices of this world called “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew,” and Long and Ulisse team up again for the beautiful heartbreak song “He’s Never Coming Back Again.” Long and co-writers Ulisse and Stanley also pay tribute to the deceased songwriter and humanitarian Dixie Hall with the upbeat and biographical cut “Sweet Miss Dixie Deen”.
Long also pays tribute to the recently departed Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard on this album. Recorded before Haggard’s death, Long puts a feisty bluegrass spin to his classic song “The Fightin’ Side of Me.” “I've always been a fan of Merle but didn’t really start listening to him until about 10 years ago or so,” said Long. “The Fightin Side of Me” has always been fun and in some ways runs in line with what I believe in. I guess most everybody knows I run along the line of hot about certain things, like a switch.”
Says producer Donna Ulisse, “Rebekah has an X factor that I can’t put into words. She’s a little edgy, like a new puppy!”