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Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby

b. Cathryn Craig Sowder, Richmond, Virginia, USA. Craig grew up in the tiny Virginian hamlet of Providence Forge, where her father was the district judge and an amateur singer and guitarist specialising in old time hillbilly and country songs. However, when her mother died at the age of nine her father attempted to dissuade her from a career in the music business. She contented herself with her collection of Connie Smith and Linda Ronstadt records until a college roommate asked her to help record some commercials for a local construction company. She subsequently formed a duo, Hardwood, playing Gram Parsons and Hank Williams cover versions alongside friend Harriet Greene. After an abortive move to Denver (where she formed a vocal trio) and several other small scale bands, she and Greene reunited and formed a pop band entitled Saturn. Again, this came to nothing, but in 1982 she met Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. She toured alongside Medley as his harmony vocalist for four years, also leading his house band at his club in Fountain Valley, California.

Craig struck out for Nashville in 1986, with Medley’s blessing, but found herself to be a small fish in a very big pool. She eventually found work making demo tracks and radio commercials, and befriended Chet Atkins while working as his golf caddy. She also worked alongside Garth Brooks when he, like her, was just an aspiring demo singer. All the time she found her own recording contract elusive, and when she finally released an album in 1994 it was a low-budget, self-released cassette. A year previously, however, she had met UK country singer Gary Hall. He was so impressed with her voice that he invited her to collaborate and join him on his European tours. Hall also produced her first album proper, Porch Songs, which as its title suggest was recorded on the back porch of Craig’s house. The album was released by the Scottish label Goldrush Records, who also issued Craig’s self-titled follow-up and 2001’s Pigg River Symphony. The latter chronicled her family’s association with traditional music and included spoken-word recollections by her father and uncle.
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