Mandolin player and vocalist Lorraine Jordan has been a Pinecastle recording artist for two decades. She's put out seven projects, including the Country Grass record, a collaboration of country and bluegrass artists, which featured 12 Grand Ole Opry stars. She prides herself on the fact that her project, co-written by Tom T. Hall, "That's Kentucky," snagged a number one slot on the charts. She said in 2021, "Bill Monroe's Ol' Mandolin" also scored as a chart-topper. Her "True Grass" project remained number one on the Bluegrass Unlimited chart for five months.
When she was interviewed for this article, the band had recently released "Patriot Grass" to honor veterans.
"Our new project is now in the top five of singles on several charts and has been the number one video on The Bluegrass Standard," Jordan said in April.
These stats make it clear: Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road are as legit as legit can be when stacking up hits in the bluegrass world. In addition to the music, she's actively showcasing other artists through her "Live at Lorraine's" concert series. This longstanding music powerhouse has recently faced some personal sadness, but her commitment to her art continues.
Jordan explained, "2023 has been a difficult year for me, losing my husband to a blood infection while in the hospital after bypass surgery. Tom was a musician himself and played dobro and sang baritone for the Gentlemen of Bluegrass. We met through music and were big fans of the original Seldom Scene. We followed them around and became friends through bluegrass."
Jordan had fond words for her spouse, who was instrumental in helping her to succeed the way she has.
"I know there are lots of women who stay home and keep the house and children while their husband is out on the road," she said, "but turn that around and imagine the husband doing it with a daughter. Well, that's what my situation was. He called me while I was on the road, telling me he was at a dance recital and had to stop and buy pantyhose for Susanna for the recital." In loving tribute, Jordan added, "I respect and appreciate him for letting me live out my dream while he kept the home fires burning,"
Her venue that offers live performances – including the Live at Lorraine's series – took shape due to an idea of her husband's.
"Tom is the one that suggested I open a venue in our hometown to bring the music back home," she reminisced about the origins of Lorraine's Coffee House and Cafe in Garner, North Carolina. "He loved Lorraine's Coffee House, and the building was dedicated to him in 2014 when we opened."
The venue offers online streaming of performances, and in addition to everything else he did, Jordan said her husband served as a cameraman for the video streaming for years.
Jordan carries on; she is now back to work and back out on tour. In April, she oversaw a new event in Kingsport, Tennessee: Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge.
She's got a tour schedule this summer that will find her in her expected gigging states of the Carolinas and Tennessee, plus dates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and more. By November, she plans to continue a tradition with which she and the band are heavily involved.
"I'm in my 12th year with Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies, located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee," she said. "This is an all-traditional festival featuring 20 bands from traditional music. Carolina Road oversees this festival."
She said more new music is also forthcoming.
"We are currently working on a project of Michael Martin Murphy tunes and a second 'Country Grass' project," she said.
By all appearances, despite a tough year, Jordan seems as committed as ever to her music. Part of her success is due to Carolina Road, and she's quick to give credit where credit is due.
"I'm very proud of this Carolina Road band," she said. "I call them the 'nicest band in bluegrass.' I have some very nice and helpful boys. All the fans love them."
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