For Charlie Sizemore, it was a long road from Salyersville, Kentucky, to Rebel Records, dotted with many musical milestones along the way. Sizemore’s path to musical greatness began with a father and grandfather who played music, with a household loaded with Stanley Brothers recordings, and with a chance encounter with Carter and Ralph Stanley as a child. It was in 1966, at only five-years-old, that Charlie saw the Stanleys in concert at the local elementary school. His journey continued as a teen when he got experience playing with regional performer Lum Patton, and soon afterwards joined the Goins Brothers. The feather in his cap was becoming the lead vocalist for Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys at the tender age of 17. After a nine year stint, 26-year-old Charlie embarked on a path of higher education that eventually allowed him to pass the bar exams in Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Charlie Sizemore of 1994 wore two hats: successful Nashville attorney and successful bluegrass entertainer. Charlie the entertainer embarked on the release of his first solo outing for Rebel, Back Home (Reb-1705). Half of the disc’s 12 tracks were written or co-written by him. As a songwriter and musician located in Music City, it was only natural for him to connect with other industry professionals. One of Charlie’s first connections was songwriter/publisher/banjoist Paul Craft, who took over production duties and supplied songs from his catalog for the album. Craft brought with him a stellar cast of guest artists, including Alison Krauss, Tim O’Brien, Clare Lynch, Bobby Clark, Glen Duncan, and Mark Schatz. Together, Charlie and company created a masterful assortment of mainstream bluegrass and traditional country music.
In My View (Reb-1727) featured the wonderful talents of the new Charlie Sizemore Band: Danny Barnes on mandolin, Will Parsons on banjo, and John Berry on bass. Guest artists included Rickie Simpkins on fiddle and Jimmy Stewart on dobro. Prior to recording the album, Charlie spent two years collecting just the right batch of songs. He gave solid bluegrass readings of tunes from country favorites such as Ernest Tubb, Vern Gosdin, and Tom T. Hall. It was Charlie’s recording of a Hall song, “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” that soared to the top of Bluegrass Unlimited’s National Bluegrass Survey. The disc also contained two of his own songs; one was the title track and the other was the humorous “Made in the Shade (If the Tree Don’t Fall)” for which he shared credits with bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin.
The success of “Memphis” was a portent of more good things to come. If the marriage of his voice with the songwriting of Tom T. Hall produced such good results, would not more be better? The answer was… Yes! The Story Is… The Songs of Tom T. Hall (Reb-1767) was a tribute to one of country’s greatest songwriters from one of bluegrass’ finest singers. Charlie chose songs that included some of Tom T.’s early hits such as “The Ballad of Forty Dollars” and “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” mega hits like “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine,” and gospels like “Me and Jesus.” There were guest appearances by Ralph Stanley, Kathy Mattea, the Oak Ridge Boys, J. D. Crowe, and even Tom T. Hall himselfm, but the real stars were the singer and the songs.