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Gene Watson's peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as 'the singer's singer' - and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson's Peers who were contacted during 2011 were most gracious with their time and words. It is here, within this special part of the Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from John Pennell, which he submitted to this site on Monday 4 July 2011.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' to John Pennell who made a special contribution to this unique part of this online 'celebration of a Lone Star Hero'.
This quote was submitted on Monday 4 July 2011.
'It would be an honour to provide a quote for Gene's Ireland-based website.
I consider Gene Watson to be one of the greatest country singers of all time, both in the quality and sound of his voice, as well as the creative interpretation he brings to the tremendous material he chooses to sing.
There are really only a handful of powerful, male country singers who have graced the airwaves with their voices; Hank Williams (Monday 17 September 1923 - Thursday 1 January 1953), George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 - Friday 26 April 2013), Merle Haggard, Johnny Horton (Thursday 30 April 1925 - Saturday 5 November 1960) and Keith Whitley (Thursday 1 July 1954 - Tuesday 9 May 1989), and right up there with them is Gene Watson.
A true country music genius!'
Thank you, John Pennell, for your support of Gene Watson.
About John Pennell...
John Pennell was born in Sidney, Illinois on Tuesday 19 September 1950 and started playing bluegrass music in Arizona while he was in school at Arizona State University.
John grew up surrounded by music; his father played upright bass, the instrument that John himself plays, in square dance bands, while his uncle played fiddle and guitar.
In 1962, when he was twelve years old, John Pennell started playing trumpet and continued that through his high school years. He started playing guitar during his junior year in high school.
John Pennell got more involved in bluegrass music when he returned to Illinois for graduate school. Paul Zonn, father of Andrea Zonn, invited him to play with them and they played a lot around the Champaign, Illinois area. Paul Zonn acquired a bass fiddle that John played through the music school. While John Pennell was a composition student at the University of Illinois, he wrote songs for their little ensemble.
John Pennell began writing songs when he was twenty years old, in 1970. He was doing solo gigs on guitar and included some songs that he had written. John was a fan of The Beatles and he studied their song-writing technique which always inspired him.
When John got into bluegrass, initially, he wrote songs that showed a lot of their influence, as well as James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell. As he became more involved in bluegrass music, he started writing songs more specifically influenced by bluegrass music or country music. The first songs he wrote were 'acoustic' in style, but they could be adapted to bluegrass music.
John Pennell met Alison Krauss during this period and the duo, along with Nelson Mandrell and John Gantz, started a band called Silver Rail.
Alison Krauss was very good about wanting to record original material and John Pennell was able to get a number of his compositions placed on 'Too Late To Cry' (Rounder Records, 1987), Alison's first Rounder album. It was this that got John Pennell started as a songwriter; John was also one of the founding members of Alison's Union Station Band.
Alison Krauss' 'Too Late To Cry' (Rounder Records, 1987) included the John Pennell compositions 'Too Late To Cry', 'Foolish Heart', 'If I Give You My Heart', 'In Your Eyes', 'Don't Follow Me' and 'On The Borderline'.
Alison Krauss' 'Two Highways' (Rounder Records, 1989) included the John Pennell compositions 'Love You In Vain', 'Here Comes Goodbye' and 'As Lovely As You'; John Pennell also played bass on the album.
Alison Krauss and Union Station's 'I've Got That Old Feeling' (Rounder Records, 1990), which was released in August 1990, included the John Pennell compositions 'Dark Skies', 'Will You Be Leaving' and 'One Good Reason'.
Alison Krauss and Union Station's 'I've Got That Old Feeling' (Rounder Records, 1990) reached No.61 on the Billboard country albums chart; the album was awarded 'Best Bluegrass Album' at the Grammy Awards in 1991.
Alison Krauss and Union Station's 'Every Time You Say Goodbye' (Rounder Records, 1992), which was released on Friday 14 February 1992, included the John Pennell composition 'Every Time You Say Goodbye'.
Alison Krauss and Union Station's 'Every Time You Say Goodbye' (Rounder Records, 1992) reached No.75 on the Billboard country albums chart; the album was awarded 'Best Bluegrass Album' at the Grammy Awards in 1993.
Chris Jones recorded 'Blinded By The Rose' for Rebel Records in 1995; John Pennell played bass on the album.
John Pennell moved to Nashville in April 1996.
Chris Jones and The Night Drivers recorded 'No One But You' for Rebel Records in 1997; John Pennell played bass on the album.
Jeff White recorded John Pennell's 'I Wonder' and included the track on 'The Broken Road' (Rounder Records, 1999).
In 2000, John Pennell saw the release of his own album project, 'All The Lonely' (JPE Records, 1999). Not a singer himself, John enlisted some of his friends to do the vocal chores, and they, like the session-picker buddies who provide the instrumental backing, are a dandy bunch.
Chris Jones, Mandy Barnett and former Union Station colleague Jeff White each sing a track each, demo/backup singers Kim Parent and Ingrid Graudins get two tracks apiece, while Jeff Allen sings three songs.
The biggest single share of the vocals, however, goes to Harley Allen (Monday 23 January 1956 - Wednesday 30 March 2011), son of bluegrass legend Red Allen and an accomplished, successful songwriter himself. A stunning singer, with a mournful, world-weary, sometimes wry voice, Harley Allen (Monday 23 January 1956 - Wednesday 30 March 2011) turns in a searing set of performances.
Alan Jackson recorded John Pennell's 'Meat And Potato Man', which was co-written with Harley Allen (Monday 23 January 1956 - Wednesday 30 March 2011) and included the track on 'When Somebody Loves You' (Arista Records, 2000).
Dan Tyminski recorded John Pennell's 'Carry Me Over The Mountain' and included the track on 'Carry Me Over The Mountain' (Rounder Records, 2000).
Sally Jones recorded John Pennell's 'Lost And Found' and included the track on 'Love Hurts' (Pinecastle Records, 2001).
Sam Bush recorded John Pennell's 'Bless His Heart' (co-written with Sam Bush) and included the track on 'King Of My World' (Sugar Hill Records, 2004).
Sam Bush recorded John Pennell's 'The Wizard Of Oz' (co-written with Sam Bush) and included the track on 'King Of My World' (Sugar Hill Records, 2004).
Sam Bush recorded John Pennell's 'Ridin' That Bluegrass Train' (co-written with Sam Bush) and included the track on 'Laps In Seven' (Sugar Hill Records, 2006).
Alecia Nugent recorded John Pennell's 'You've Still Got It' (co-written with Jerry Salley) and included the track on 'A Little Girl...A Big Four Lane' (Rounder Records, 2006).
Alan Jackson recorded John Pennell's 'As Lovely As You' and included the track on 'Like Red On A Rose' (BMG/Arista Nashville Records, 2006).
Alison Krauss recorded John Pennell's 'Jacob's Dream' (co-written with Julie Lee) and included the track on 'A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection' (Rounder Records, 2007).
The Charlie Sizemore Band recorded John Pennell's 'Devil On A Plow' and included the track on 'Good News' (Rounder Records, 2007).
Gina Jeffreys recorded John Pennell's 'Never Mine' (co-written with Julie Lee) and included the track on 'Walks Of Life' (Ocean Road Records, 2007).
Eva Cassidy (Saturday 2 February 1963 - Saturday 2 November 1996) recorded John Pennell's 'If I Give You My Heart'; the track was subsequently included on 'Somewhere' (Blix Street Records, 2008).
Sierra Hull recorded John Pennell's 'Only My Heart' and included the track on 'Secrets' (Rounder Records, 2008).
Sierra Hull recorded John Pennell's 'Don't Pick Me Up' and included the track on 'Daybreak' (Rounder Records, 2011).
John Pennell and his wife Julie play live shows as a vocal duo with guitar accompaniment, primarily. John also plays upright bass, while Julie also plays banjo and dulcimer.
John's wife, Julie Pennell, hails from North Bay in Ontario, Canada and comes from a very musical family of bluegrass musicians. Julie Pennell was voted 'Songwriter Of The Year' by the Canadian Song Writing Club of Ontario in 2001, 2002 and 2003.