As the wide range of styles embraced on Love Goes On implies, Andrea Zonn is at home in any number of musical settings. For this skill, Zonn credits her total immersion into music as a child. “My father, Paul Martin Zonn, was chair of the Music Theory and Composition Department of the UniversiHer versatile fiddle playing, with its unmistty of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was also a great clarinetist and jazz pianist. My mother is a world-class oboist and pianist, and my younger brother Brian is a great bass player. Needless to say, our house was always filled with music.”
Andrea added classical violin to the household soundscape by age 5, and soon embraced bluegrass and country fiddle styles. “I started fiddling at age 10,” she says, “when I was frustrated with the violin repertoire I was technically limited to.” She began competing in fiddle contests, meeting and playing alongside the new generation of bluegrass musicians now shaping the music. “Alison Krauss and I met at our first fiddle contest, which was at the Champaign County Fair. She was 8 and I was 10. We became friends and started listening to all the same records, going to the contest and festival circuit, and looking at – I mean, listening to – all the young boy fiddlers.”
Filtered through Zonn’s natural abilities, the combination of classical training and bluegrass inclinations produced a unique style: elegant and restrained, but able to still let loose with wailing double stops and propulsive rhythms. “Certainly my classical training aided my bluegrass and country fiddle playing from a technical standpoint,” she observes. “However, it was of no help when it was time to improvise. But in turn, the improvisational development that I learned from bluegrass helped me to bring a fresh approach to the classical literature. At this point in my playing, I think the two disciplines are knit pretty tightly together.”
Arriving in Nashville at age 16, Zonn quickly emerged atop the highly competitive studio scene. In 1990, she joined country star Vince Gill’s band, a position she holds to this day. “Vince really took me under his wing,” she says. “Before I met him, I had no idea how to get a gig, how to find out who, was looking, and so on. So I called him up out of the blue, sent him a tape, and he hired me. Very soon after that, he asked me to play and sing on the album he was working on. That gig led to others.”
Vince Gill, along with Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, Tim O’Brien, Jon Randall Stewart, Jerry Douglas, Alison Brown, Jeff White, Darrell Scott, and a host of Nashville’s finest musicians contribute to make Love Goes On a sumptuous, powerful debut. Two years in the making, the album consists of contemporary songs from renowned writers from Nashville and beyond, and puts as much emphasis on Zonn’s crystalline vocals as it does her impressive violin playing. “After all,” says Andrea, “I’ve been singing long before I started playing. First stuff like ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider.’ A little later on, I would sing back the atonal compositions my father was working on. It was kind of a weird little game we had ...’See if you can sing this back to me.’” Such formative experiences have made Zonn a nimble vocalist in both solo and harmony contexts.
The twelve tracks of Love Goes On combine to form a sterling portrait of a remarkable talent. As Andrea continues to balance performing with Vince Gill, and innumerable recording sessions, the completion of Love Goes On symbolizes a new chapter in her career. “There's also a part of me that loves working on something this intensely for so long. That's not something you get to experience when you're a studio player on another project. There, when your three hours are up, you just go home. This album will stay with me forever. I've learned so much in the process of this recording, I can't wait to do another.”