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Ronald Franklin "Ron" Block (born July 30, 1964) is an American bluegrass and alternative country musician, mainly playing the banjo and the guitar, singing, and writing gospel music. He has been awarded 14 Grammys, 6 International Bluegrass Awards, and a CMA Award.
Banjoist, guitarist, and vocalist Ron Block has devoted more than 30 years to playing music. After teen years spent in local bands, he spent about four years during the late '80s with the group Weary Hearts, of which he was a founding member, and a bit of time early the following decade with the Lynn Morris Band. Since joining Alison Krauss & Union Station in 1991, Block has provided banjo, lead and rhythm guitar, and harmony and lead vocals for the band’s recordings and live shows.
Block has also written enduring and lovely songs frequently concerned with the topic of faith for Alison Krauss & Union Station – songs like A Living Prayer, There is a Reason, and In the Palm of Your Hand. Among the other artists who have recorded Block's songs are Michael W. Smith, Randy Travis, Rhonda Vincent, the Forbes Family, fellow Union Station member Dan Tyminski, and the Cox Family. Block has lent his instrumental talents to recordings by Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Kate Rusby, Clint Black, Little Big Town, Susan Ashton, Brad Paisley, Billy Dean, and Bill Frisell, and many others.
In addition to his songwriting and playing, Block has also worked as a producer on the bluegrass-gospel In the Shadow of Your Wings, recorded by the Forbes Family, and also Sierra Hull’s first Rounder recording, Secrets. In addition, he has produced three of his own recordings of mostly original material. The list of artists who contributed to Block's first three solo albums reads like a high-caliber who's-who, and includes Kate Rusby, Suzanne Cox, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Barry Bales, Adam Steffey, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Sam Bush, Chris Thile and his Nickel Creek partners Sean and Sara Watkins, Viktor Krauss, the Cox Family, the Forbes Family, and many more.
Block, whose father Chuck owned a rock and roll music store in Lawndale, California, got his hands on a guitar of his own when he was 11 years old. After catching a televised performance by Lester Flatt two years later, he was captivated with the sound of the banjo. Later that same year, his father presented him with one of the instruments, a Harmony model, as a Christmas gift. After high school he turned to Texas' South Plains College to study music, specifically country and bluegrass. There he joined forces with Eric Uglum and Mike Bub to establish Weary Hearts. The group would later include Chris Jones and Butch Baldassari.
In addition to Lester Flatt, Block cites a wide range of musical influences, including Flatt's partner Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Jimmy Martin, Larry Sparks, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Clarence White, Doc Watson, the Osborne Brothers, Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, among many others. Inspiration later came from such diverse musicians as B.B. King, Benny Goodman, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Larry Carlton.
'Grammys' (2011) Best Bluegrass Album / Alison Krauss and Union Station / Paper Airplane (2005) Best Country Instrumental Performance by a Duo or Group / AKUS / Restless (2005) Best Country Instrumental Performance / AKUS / Unionhouse Branch (2005) Best Country Album / AKUS / Lonely Runs Both Ways (2003) Best Country Instrumental Performance / AKUS / Cluck Old Hen (2003) Best Bluegrass Album / AKUS / Live (2001) Album of the Year / Various Artists / O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack (2001) Best Country Performance by Duo or Group w/ Vocal/AKUS/The Lucky One (2001) Best Bluegrass Album / AKUS / New Favorite (1997) Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal / AKUS / Looking in the Eyes of Love (1997) Best Country Instrumental Performance / AKUS / Little Liza Jane (1997) Best Bluegrass Album / AKUS / So Long So Wrong (1996) Best Country Collaboration with Vocals / Vince Gill with AKUS / High Lonesome Sound (1992) Best Bluegrass Album / AKUS / Every Time You Say Goodbye
International Bluegrass Awards (2003) Album of the Year / AKUS / Live (2002) Album of the Year / Various Artists / Down From the Mountain - 200 (2001) Album of the Year / Various Artists / O Brother, Where Art Thou? (1995) Entertainer of the Year / AKUS (1993) Album of the Year / AKUS / Every Time You Say Goodbye (1991) Entertainer of the Year / AKUS
CMA Award 1995 Single of the Year “When You Say Nothing At All”
Dove Awards 1998 Best Bluegrass Song / A Living Prayer
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