Jim Lauderdale

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Jim Lauderdale
Jim Lauderdale in Waycross, GA
Background information
Birth name James Russell Lauderdale[1]
Born (1957-04-11) April 11, 1957 (age 58)
Troutman, North Carolina, United States
Origin Nashville, Tennessee
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1986–present
Labels Sky Crunch, New West, Sugar Hill, Thirty Tigers, Yep Roc, Dualtone
Associated acts Robert Hunter, Buddy Miller, Ralph Stanley, Donna the Buffalo
Website JimLauderdale.com

Jim Lauderdale (born April 11, 1957) is an American country, bluegrass, and Americana singer-songwriter.[2] He has released 23 studio albums since 1986, some of which have been collaborations with artists such as Dr. Ralph Stanley, Buddy Miller, and Donna the Buffalo. A "songwriter's songwriter,"[3] his songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, notably George Strait, Gary Allan, Elvis Costello, Blake Shelton, the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, and Patty Loveless.

Early life[edit]

Lauderdale was born in Troutman, North Carolina, the son of Barbara Ann Lauderdale (née Hobson)[4][5][6] and Dr. Wilbur "Chap" Chapman Lauderdale.[1][7][8]

Lauderdale's mother was originally from Kansas.[5] She worked as "a public school and piano teacher, choral director, church organist, and hand bell choir director, and led the music ministry in Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) churches in Troutman, NC, Charlotte, NC, and Due West, SC."[4]

His father was born in Lexington, VA, the son of Rev. David Thomas and Sallie Ann Lauderdale (née Chapman).[7] Lauderdale's father was a noted minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.[7]

Lauderdale has one sister, Rebecca "Becky" Tatum, and a nephew, Mark Alexander Tatum.[1]

He grew up in the small town of Due West, South Carolina.[2] As a teenager, Lauderdale played in a duo whose repertoire included "a little bit of everything: a little bit of Grateful Dead, bluegrass, George Jones, old folk."[9] He learned to play the banjo at 15, and has cited the influence of Ralph Stanley and bluegrass music from an early age.[9]

Of his childhood in Due West, where many music acts would come to Erskine College, Lauderdale said, "I spent so much time listening to music back then. I was playing banjo and blues harmonica. I remember coming back from the Union Grove Bluegrass Festival in North Carolina, and my favorite album was Will the Circle be Unbroken. Then Neil Young came out with Harvest. I loved being in a rural setting where I could run and walk and not see anybody. Little things like that just stick in your brain ... those melodies, and the smell of springtime flowers and honeysuckle. It was a good time."[10]

Both of his parents were singers. "I started singing really early and then played drums for a few years when I was 11 and then, when I was 13, I started playing harmonica. When I was 15 I started playing the banjo and getting more into Bluegrass music."[11]

He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, studying theater. He played in country and bluegrass bands during college.[9]

Lauderdale is a long-time resident of Nashville, Tennessee.[12]


After graduating college, Lauderdale moved to Nashville in the summer of 1979 for five months where he tried to get a record or a publishing deal. He hung out a lot with Roland White, an accomplished mandolin player, with whom he cut a record. But things never took off, so he decided to move to New York.[3]

Jim Lauderdale at MerleFest in 2007.
Photo by Forrest L. Smith, III

After relocating to the Big Apple, Lauderdale joined former Asleep at the Wheel pianist Floyd Domino's group and also performed as a solo artist. In 1980 he met singer-songwriter Buddy Miller.[3] He played in Miller's band in the active twang music scene that was evolving at the time.[9]

During his time in New York City, he also worked in the mailroom and as a messenger at Rolling Stone magazine.[13] Among his duties he often had to pick up and drop off photographer Annie Liebovitz's equipment.[9]

Lauderdale joined the national touring production of Pump Boys & Dinettes, which eventually reached Los Angeles where he met, among others, musicians Rosie Flores, former Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremmer, Dwight Yoakam producer and guitarist Pete Anderson, Lucinda Williams, and Dale Watson.[9] John Ciambotti became Lauderdale's manager and Lauderdale relocated to Los Angeles in the late 1980s, recording an album for CBS (which wasn't released then but later as The Point of No Return). The record was influenced by the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens.[9]

Armed with a catalog of a few hundred songs he had written, Lauderdale was able to get a publishing deal with a small company called Blue Water Music (based in Houston, with a small office in Nashville). Living in Los Angeles he made a record with Anderson producing, but again it never got released.[3]

Lauderdale then got a publishing deal with Reprise and moved into the second floor of Buddy and Julie Miller's house until "some possums evicted him" and he got his own place in Nashville.[3]

2014 saw the release of "I'm A Song" a "traditional, heavy tele and steel kind of stuff" in the vein of his prior records: Country Super Hits", "Honey Songs" and "Patchwork River.[14]

Solo career[edit]

Jim Lauderdale - AMA 2011

Lauderdale's solo debut, Planet of Love, was produced by Rodney Crowell and John Leventhal.[9][15]

Lost in the Lonesome Pines, a 2002 collaboration with Ralph Stanley, won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. The Bluegrass Diaries won the same award in 2008.

In 2003, Lauderdale was joined by roots/jam band Donna the Buffalo on the album Wait 'Til Spring.

Could We Get Any Closer? was also nominated for a Grammy in 2009.

In 2013, Lauderdale issued his first solo acoustic album, Blue Moon Junction and followed with Black Roses, with the North Mississippi All-Stars. Several weeks prior, he released another record, Old Time Angels, a bluegrass album.[16]

Lauderdale appears on Laura Cantrell's 2013 release, No Way There From Here."[17]


In 2007, he began a collaboration with Larry Campbell, the band Olabelle and others in the American Beauty Project, a loose collection of musicians dedicated to reimagining in performance the Grateful Dead's two classic 1970 albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.

'"I kind of had this natural evolution of wanting to put out bluegrass, then moving into country, and then going into whatever from there and then going back and forth, putting out kind of rootsy rock, with some soul kind of stuff in there too. But nothing in my career ever went as planned ,and so I didn't put out my first bluegrass record ... until '97 or '98 or so. And that was 25 years or so after I thought I was going to be putting out bluegrass records. I still feel like the root of what I do is bluegrass. I was a late bloomer when it came to putting things out, but as far as bluegrass is concerned, I just love it so much."'[14]

Jim on his music

In 2011, Lauderdale toured with Hot Tuna, an ensemble act including Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Barry Mitterhof, G.E. Smith, and, for a time, Charlie Musselwhite. He has also toured with Elvis Costello, Rhonda Vincent and Mary Chapin Carpenter among others.

Dr. Ralph Stanley[edit]

Lauderdale wrote and produced two bluegrass records with Dr. Ralph Stanley. His first collaboration with Dr. Ralph Stanley I Feel Like Singing Today was Grammy nominated as was his solo album Bluegrass.

Buddy Miller[edit]

Lauderdale released a record called Buddy and Jim with long-time friend and collaborator, Buddy Miller in 2013.[13] On the record, Lauderdale said, "[W]e recorded it in three days. I think he mixed it in five days. He's a great, world class producer, so there wasn't a question about who should produce it. We do the radio show out of his home studio and that's where we did the record. It's a great place."[14]

Eddie Perez (with Jim Lauderdale, right) at The 15th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival in Waycross, GA

Robert Hunter[edit]

Lauderdale has often collaborated with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Lauderdale describes how working with Hunter came about: "I was doing that record with Ralph Stanley and I told a friend of mine, Rob Bleetstein, that I'd love to write with Robert Hunter. It was just kind of a pipe dream, and so he talked to Robert and Robert faxed me some lyrics. I didn't know how to email back then, so we kind of communicated by fax and by phone." It continued from there.[14]

Lauderdale's June 2011 release Reason and Rhyme was his third collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, the first being Headed for the Hills and the second being Patchwork River in May 2010. Additionally, they wrote more songs for a North Mississippi Allstars record that was released in the fall of 2013.[11]

The two 2013 releases, Black Roses and Blue Moon Junction, were co-written with Hunter. Black Roses features North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody and Luther Dickinson, whom Lauderdale met in Nashville at the Americana Music Festival,[18] and features Muscle Shoals musicians Spooner Oldham and David Hood. The record was recorded at their father Jim Dickinson's studio, Zebra Ranch in Mississippi. "The place is out in the country, and they have it now and it’s just got a really creative atmosphere. As we would say, it’s got great mojo in it, and Luther and Cody work so well together. When you have guys like that, it really makes it flow."[18]

2013's Blue Moon Junction "spotlights the songwriter behind the singer" as Lauderdale performs more songs he co-wrote with Hunter in a solo, acoustic format. Lauderdale produced the record.[18]

Lauderdale says that "Robert and I have more songs that would be a good follow-up to Blue Moon Junction as a solo acoustic thing. Now that he's gotten back to performing, I'm hoping he will still have time to do some more writing with me."[14]

Nick Lowe[edit]

Lauderdale said he worked on a yet to be released record with Nick Lowe's band during a time he spent in England.[14]

The Jim Lauderdale Phenomenon[edit]

Coined by singer-songwriter Kim Richey and cited in an April 2000 article in The Tennessean by writer Peter Cooper, the Jim Lauderdale Phenomenon reflected the irony that Lauderdale was nominated for a Grammy for his work with Dr. Ralph Stanley but was released from a record deal with RCA not long after. He was also released from contracts with Warner Bros., Columbia and Atlantic Records.[19][20] The article described the phenomenon of artists who released "critically heralded, major-label country discs in the 1990s that failed to crack country radio playlists. Those performers lost their deals after one or two albums."[19] This became endemic in Nashville during this period of time, a time characterized by "commercially undervalued country releases" where Nashville megastardom predominated.[21]


Lauderdale has had a long-time, successful[15] Music Row career writing songs for many mainstream country music singers under four separate major-label record contracts: CBS, Warner/Reprise, Atlantic, and RCA/BMG.[9][22]


  • Gary Allan: "Wake Up Screaming", "What's On My Mind", "We Touched the Sun"
  • Mark Chestnutt: "I'm Gonna Get a Life" (co-written with Frank Dycus) - hit #1 in 1995[2]
  • Elvis Costello: "I Lost You", "Poor Borrowed Dress"
  • The Dixie Chicks: "Hole in My Head" (co-wrote with Buddy Miller)
  • Vince Gill: "Sparkle"
  • Patty Loveless: "Halfway Down", "To Feel That Way at All", "You Don't Seem To Miss Me"
  • George Strait: "Where the Sidewalk Ends", "Do the Right Thing", "Round About Way", "One of You", "Don't Make Me Come Over There and Love You", "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This", "What Do You Say To That?", "Twang", "I Gotta Get to You"
  • Lee Ann Womack: "The King of Broken Hearts"


Year Album Label Featuring Peak chart positions
US Country US Heat US Grass
1991 Planet of Love Reprise Rodney Crowell and John Leventhal (co-producers)
1994 Pretty Close to the Truth Atlantic
1995 Every Second Counts Atlantic
1996 Persimmons Rounder Select / Upstart
1998 Whisper BNA Harlan Howard, Melba Montgomery, Frank Dycus (songwriters)
1999 I Feel Like Singing Today Rebel Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
Onward Through It All RCA
2001 The Other Sessions Dualtone Del Reeves, Harlan Howard, Melba Montgomery, Kostas, Clay Blaker (co-writers)
Point of No Return: The Unreleased 1989 Album Westside Records
2002 The Hummingbirds Dualtone
Lost in the Lonesome Pines Dualtone Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
2003 Wait 'Til Spring Dualtone Donna the Buffalo
2004 Headed for the Hills Dualtone Robert Hunter (co-writer)
2006 Bluegrass Yep Roc
Country Super Hits Vol. 1 Yep Roc Odie Blackmon, Leslie Satcher, Shawn Camp (co-writers)
2007 The Bluegrass Diaries Yep Roc 10
2008 Honey Songs & the Dream Players Yep Roc James Burton (guitar), Ron Tutt (drums), Garry Tallent (bass), Glen D. Hardin (piano),
Al Perkins (pedal steel); vocals: Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Patty Loveless, Kelly Hogan
2009 Could We Get Any Closer? Sky Crunch Records Scott Vestal (banjo)
2010 Patchwork River Thirty Tigers Songs by Robert Hunter and Jim Lauderdale 47 38
2011 Reason and Rhyme Sugar Hill Bluegrass songs by Robert Hunter and Jim Lauderdale 9
2012 Carolina Moonrise Compass Bluegrass songs by Robert Hunter and Jim Lauderdale 15
Buddy & Jim New West Buddy Miller 67 20
2013 Old Time Angels Sky Crunch Records
Black Roses Sky Crunch Records / Smith Music Group Songs by Robert Hunter and Jim Lauderdale
Blue Moon Junction Sky Crunch Records Songs by Robert Hunter and Jim Lauderdale
2014 I'm a Song Sky Crunch Records


Year Single US Country Album
1988 "Stay Out of My Arms" 86 Point of No Return
1989 "Lucky 13"
1991 "Maybe" Planet of Love
1992 "Wake Up Screaming"
1999 "Still Not Out of the Woods" Onward Through It All
2000 "If I Were You" The Other Sessions
2002 "She's Looking at Me" (with Ralph Stanley) Lost in the Lonesome Pines
2006 "I Met Jesus in a Bar" Bluegrass
2007 "Who's Leaving Who?"
"There Goes Bessy Brown"
2008 "This Is the Last Time (I'm Ever Gonna Hurt)" The Bluegrass Diaries

Guest singles[edit]

Year Single Artist Album
2009 "Love's Gonna Live Here" Tanya Tucker My Turn

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1989 "Lucky 13"
1991 "Maybe
1992 "Wake Up Screaming"
1999 "Still Not Out of the Woods" David McClister
2000 "If I Were You"
2002 "She's Looking at Me" (with Ralph Stanley)
2006 "I Met Jesus in a Bar" David McClister
2007 "Who's Leaving Who?" Travis Nicholson
"There Goes Bessy Brown"
2008 "This Is the Last Time (I'm Ever Gonna Hurt)" Jarboe


  • A Town South of Bakersfield Vol. II (1988) - "What Am I Waiting For"
  • Happy Birthday, Buck! A Texas Salute to Buck Owens (2002) - "Sweet Rosie Jones"
  • Touch My Heart: A Tribute to Johnny Paycheck (2005) - "I Want You To Know"
  • Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins (2008) - "Easy Times"

Other activities[edit]

Lauderdale has hosted the Americana Music Awards since winning their first Artist of the Year and Song of the Year awards in 2002.[23] He was also a judge for the second,[24] 10th and 11th[25] annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers. He is also Honorary Chairperson for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest each April at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC.

'"From Jim, I learned to trust the first thing that comes out of my mouth. For example, you might say, "It would be cool if the chorus said something like ’My home town is a half-mile down.’" From there, it got all Woody Guthrie, who could sing a whole verse with just one word, like "Dig diggy dig dig dig a dig/ diggy diggy dig dig" [in "Miner’s Song."] So I sang, "It’s a half-mile of water all around, all around."'[26]

Ketch Secor, Old Crow Medicine Show

He hosted "The Jim Lauderdale Show" on WSM Radio. He hosts, along with Buddy Miller, “The Buddy & Jim Show” on SiriusXM Outlaw Country. Lauderdale is also a frequent host and performer on "Music City Roots", a weekly Americana music show broadcast live on 94.5 Hippie Radio from the The Factory at Franklin just outside of Nashville.[11]

Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts[edit]

A documentary film called Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts about Jim Lauderdale, directed by Jeremy Dylan, was released in 2013. The documentary features interviews with interviews with Elvis Costello, Buddy Miller, John Oates, Gary Allan, Tony Brown, and Jerry Douglas and describes Lauderdale's successes and failures as a recording artist.[27]


  1. ^ a b c "Wilbur Lauderdale Obituary". The Greenville News. 8 September 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Shone, Mark (2012). Michael McCall, ed. The Encyclopedia of Country Music (2nd ed.). Oxford, MS: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199920839. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Dye, David (11 April 2013). "Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale On World Cafe" (AUDIO INTERVIEW). NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Barbara Hobson Lauderdale (July 10, 1930 - 8 March 2011)". Chandler-Jackson Funeral Home and Cremation Services. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Barbara Lauderdale Obituary". The Greenville News. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Barbara Hobson Lauderdale (Find A Grave Memorial# 114878601)". Find A Grave. 3 August 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Wilbur "Chap" Chapman Lauderdale (August 29, 1924 - 7 September 2004)". Chandler-Jackson Funeral Home and Cremation Services. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Dr W. C. (Chap) Lauderdale (Find A Grave Memorial# 9454068)". Find A Grave. 12 September 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Patterson, Rob (November 25, 1999). "The grass is blue: Writing hits for the Dixie Chicks has given Jim Lauderdale his own wide open space". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Cooper, Peter. "Hometown Heart: Due West native Jim Lauderdale comes to Greenville for an important performance". Greenville / Spartanburg Arts & Entertainment. Creative Loafing Online. Archived from the original on October 9, 1999. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Lane, Baron (10 May 2013). "A Song of Perseverance – An Interview With Jim Lauderdale". Twang Nation. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  12. ^ Ochs, Meredith (12 December 2013). "For The Bloodiest Tales In American Music, A Revenge-Themed Sequel" (RADIO SHOW). All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale: Tiny Desk Concert" (VIDEO PERFORMANCE AND INTERVIEW). Tiny Desk Concert. National Public Radio. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Zimmerman, Lee (19 February 2014). "Jim Lauderdale: "Slugging Along and Slugging It Out"". Miami New Times. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Winkworth, Bruce. "Go to the Country, Turn Left". The Music Monitor. Archived from the original on 6 November 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  16. ^ Netherland, Tom (9 January 2014). "Lauderdale brings new tunes, standbys to town". Tri Cities - Bristol Herald Courier (Bristol, VA). Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Laura Cantrell to Release New Album No Way There From Here, 1/28; Plays Joe's Pub in NYC, 1/29". Broadway World. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c Atkinson, Brian T. (9 January 2014). "Jim Lauderdale Teams Up for New Albums, Grammy Nod". CMT Edge. Viacom / Country Music Television, Inc. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Cooper, Peter. "Without 'star-level' clout, Lauderdale released from RCA". The Tennessean. Archived from the original on 21 February 2001. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Kelly, James. "Music: Jim Lauderdale, Whisper". Creative Loafing. Archived from the original on 22 February 2001. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  21. ^ Rowland, Hobart (May 21, 1998). "Pen pal: Jim Lauderdale is the write man in the wrong place". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  22. ^ "Jim Lauderdale - Credits - Writing & Arrangement". Discogs. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  23. ^ Durchholz, Daniel (29 September 2014). "Jim Lauderdale Reflects on Legendary, 'Left of Center' Career". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  25. ^ "11th Annual IMA Judges. Independent Music Awards. Retrieved on 4 Sept. 2013.
  26. ^ Berkowitz, Kenny. "Old Crow Medicine Show: OCMS returns with a vibrant new album, Carry Me Back". Acoustic Guitar. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  27. ^ "About the Film". Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

None recognized before
AMA Song of the Year (Songwriter)
Succeeded by
Trent Reznor
None recognized before
AMA Artist of the Year
Succeeded by
Johnny Cash