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Maddie Dalton—a Fresh Seed in the Field of Bluegrass

Traditional bluegrass roots stem from the origins of Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Ralph Stanley, making bluegrass one of today's most male-dominated musical genres. However, since the first planting of bluegrass, women pioneers of the genre tilled the rows for the seeds coming after them, like Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Becky Buller, and more.

18-year-old Maddie Dalton's first taste of music was when she was five after her grandmother signed her up for classical violin lessons. Coming from a non-musical family from Southwest Missouri, Dalton remembers this surprising hobby being an integral part of her life.

"After I started my classical violin lessons, it didn't take me too long to discover that it wasn't very fun, but that's when I started learning the fiddle," Dalton said. "Everyone was happier when they played the fiddle, and it was a more laid-back style of music." No specific instance or moment sparked her to start playing music, "but it's the one thing I always remember doing. Music has just always been there for me."

By age seven, Dalton participated in her first fiddle competition and got her sister interested in playing bluegrass music, so they started a band.

Growing up, they drove from 45 minutes to two hours to play music. "Once a week, we would drive to jam sessions in a schoolhouse where I would get to play with my sister and our friends," Dalton said. "It was an encouraging thing to get to be a part of that and see other kids get into playing bluegrass music. I also attended Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival in Conway, Missouri many times growing up, and everyone there really encouraged me and got me interested in playing bluegrass."

A member of Tomorrow's Bluegrass Stars(TBS) since she was 12, Dalton credits TBS for some of her first experiences playing with other young musicians. Growing up, she had little access to other musicians her age, especially bluegrass musicians. So while the group's goal was encouragement, Dalton gained much more as she grew in her music.

When Dalton turned 13, she got more serious about her music and began learning to play the bass. Soon after, she joined a new band with some of her bluegrass friends called Po' Anna, where she was the bassist until recently.

"Playing with Po' Anna pushed me to become a better bass player," Dalton said.

These days, Dalton is finding her place in the world of bluegrass and folk music, doing solo gigs and working toward a sound of her own—embracing the folky side of bluegrass music.

Influenced vocally by Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Maines of The Chicks, Dalton is proud to create a genuinely genre-blending sound while focusing on folk roots.

Inspired by whoever she's listening to, Dalton puts that into her music. "Recently, I've listened to more Crooked Still. I'm all over the place with what I like to listen to and what I take from that and put into my music. I feel like my passion and drive for my music and what I put into what I'm creating sets me apart from other artists," Dalton said.

She played in Silver Dollar City with a folk trio, performing 136 shows. "I grew up going to Silver Dollar City and playing with the house band, The Homestead Pickers. Over the years, I was also able to play and sing there with both of my bands, but playing there [last] summer and getting to do so many shows was a very cool experience and so much fun," Dalton said.

After an incredible summer of performances, Dalton is recording her first solo album, releasing it this year, and putting together her band with big goals.

"I want to be able to play music for whoever will listen. I want to make people happy," Dalton said. "My dream is to sell my record successfully. I want to play for whoever will hear me, and I hope to make someone smile through my music."
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