Friday, September 12, 2008

Linda Ronstadt Honored for Her Many Musical Contributions

Singer Linda Ronstadt has had one of the longest and most successful careers in pop music, from the early 1960s to the present day. This week the singer, whose parents are of Mexican and German ancestry, was honored with a special tribute at the ALMA Awards, which honor contributions that Latinos have made to music, television, and film. (Her honor was for Trailblazer Award for Contribution to American Music.)

I've always been a big fan of female singers and female bands (and bands with women singers), and Ronstadt was one of my favorite artists growing up. Linda Ronstadt had her first hit single as part of the folk-rock group The Stone Poneys, famous for their chart hit "Different Drum" -- which I owned on 45 (anybody remember those?)

Ronstadt later made several solo albums covering a variety of folk and country tunes, but made her mark with a later album featuring the single "Silver Threads and Golden Needles."

Her big breakthrough came in the early 1970s with her chart-topping album "Heart Like a Wheel," featuring the hit singles "You're No Good" and a cover of the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved." That's when I started following her career in earnest, buying each new album of hers as it came out, and delving into her catalog of previous albums.

All told, Linda Ronstadt has had 38 top 100 singles, 21 of which have made the top 40. She has earned a number of Grammy Awards as well as an Emmy Award, and has also received nominations for Tony and Golden Globe Awards.

Besides her well-known rock/pop/folk/country tunes, Ronstadt has also extended her talents into other musical genres. She starred on Broadway in a revival of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta "The Pirates of Penzance;"recorded several albums of American standards with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in the 1980s; and also reached back to her Mexican roots to record the album "Canciones de Mi Padre" ("Songs of My Father").

She has also recorded albums in which she shares vocal duties with other legendary singers, including Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

Ronstadt has always been a strong interpreter of the songs of others: sometimes well-known songwriters ranging from Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan to Warren Zevon; other times giving valuable exposure to lesser-known writers such as Tracy Nelson and Julie Miller.

Sticking with her recent eclectic streak, Ronstadt's most recent album is "Adieu False Heart," released in 2006, in which she teamed with longtime friend Ann Savoy (with the two of them recording under the name the ZoZo Sisters), and including musical styles including pop and cajun.

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