Bluegrass artist Claire Lynch sought out a quiet life — but success found her instead. 

Charmed Chops

Claire Lynch and The Front Porch String Band
With Jackie Frost Trio and Page Wilson and Reckless Abandon
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen
2880 Mountain Road, Glen Allen
7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9
$16 advance, $18 door

Singer Claire Lynch may be a self-described "Yankee who grew up on pop music," but to hear the longtime Alabama resident talk about her bluegrass passion in her soft Southern drawl you'd think she developed her otherworldly vocal chops in the cradle.

Lynch, an upstate New York native, didn't really connect with bluegrass music until she moved to Alabama with her folks and graduated from high school. She heard a friend's college bluegrass band in 1973 and liked the sound of the music.

Lynch admits, however, that her interest in the band was twofold.

"I was smitten by the music," she says with a small laugh, "but I had a crush on [band member] Larry."

She soon joined both the Front Porch String Band as the lead singer and Larry Lynch in marriage, and it was this early discovery of two loves that shaped the 45-year-old singer personally and professionally.

Personally, she works hard at raising two youngsters in a complicated world. Professionally, she juggles performing nationwide, writing songs for a Nashville publishing house, and singing background on recordings by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and others.

Opportunities unfolded for Lynch from her first days with the FPSB. Bluegrass was changing in the early '70s; young former rockers were starting bands and reshaping the standard songs while maintaining a respect for bluegrass tradition. The FPSB was among this new breed and the band caught on in the late '70s. FPSB soon regularly backed up some of music's biggest future stars at a popular Birmingham venue.

"A big break it was … [but] we didn't know it," she recalls.

The band toured nationally until 1981, when Claire and Larry decided to settle down. The couple moved to Hazel Green, Ala., about two hours south of Nashville, to live a quieter life. Two children, Kegan and Christy, soon took center stage for the couple.

But, quite unexpectedly, Lynch's career resurfaced in 1985. It seems Ricky Skaggs, Harris and others — now big stars — remembered her from her days in Birmingham and wanted her on their records.

"I started getting calls," she says, "[and] started getting cuts. Breaks like that don't come with phone calls but they did with me."

During commutes to Nashville to sing, Lynch started writing songs for other artists. She and Larry resurrected the FPSB and in the mid-'90s the band signed with Rounder Records. In 1997, Lynch was the International Bluegrass Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year. It seems success follows Claire Lynch almost in spite of her earlier efforts to play it low key.

"I've lived a charmed life and I know it," she says


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