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Ricky Skaggs: God's Country

By Debbie Harper and Scott Ross
The 700 Club - SCOTT ROSS: Ricky Skaggs brought the "country" back to country music with his down-home bluegrass style. His songs have been at the top of the charts with No. 1 hits like "Heartbroken," in the early '80s, and others like "I'm Crying My Heart Out Over You." Skaggs was country music's Male Vocalist of the Year in 1982. He and his wife, Sharon White, won the Vocal Duo of the Year award for their 1987 duet "Love Can't Ever Get Better Than This." Behind all of his music has been the traditional sounds of bluegrass, showing his Cordell, Ky., roots.

RICKY SKAGGS: You have to kind of know my musical DNA. I grew up listening to the classics: Bill Monroe, Flat and Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers. My left foot has always been in that music; my right foot has always been around trying to touch new places, new musicians.

SCOTT ROSS: Skaggs was five years old when he first played the mandolin on stage with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

RICKY SKAGGS: Gospel is part of the fabric or part of the makeup of what bluegrass music is. The style of the singing kind of came out of the church singing style, and Mr. Monroe was adamant about making sure that the gospel was sung when he designed this music. He did so many gospel albums, as did Flat and Scruggs. I mean, I listen to these songs they were singing 30-, 40 years ago, and man, there is power in those old blood songs. Its awesome.

SCOTT ROSS: Well, Im a guy from Scotland, and you know some of that bluegrass was stolen from some of us Scots. You do know that, dont you?

RICKY SKAGGS: You are right about that. Monroe is a very Scottish name. Thats right. He knew his Scottish heritage and his ancestry, and he talked about the strength of the Scots. He talked about that being the ancient tones. He said, 'That music from way back there.'

SCOTT ROSS: Ricky, you talk about nations. People in China love your music. Chinese people like bluegrass?

RICKY SKAGGS: I have this joke. I say, 'Folks, were live tonight on the Internet. From China to North Carolina, you can get the Grand Ole Opry.' And people do. They get the Grand Ole Opry all over the world. Its a wonderful thing to have music that crosses boundaries. We went out and did 20 dates last year with the Dixie Chick, and to be able to play for 25,000 kids every night for 30 nights, it was unreal.

SCOTT ROSS: As you look at the journey to date, how have you seen a change for you in a decade, not just in your music, but for your own life, what youre saying, the direction of your music, your ministry, as a man?

RICKY SKAGGS: Exceeding joy.


RICKY SKAGGS: There is joy now in my heart that has never been there before. I can't say that it has never been there, but on the level that it is now. There is just joy unspeakable. There is something about the Lord saying, Do not be unequally yoked. I dont care how much of a Christian you are, when you are assigned unto the world or yoked to the world, theres going to be a certain amount of His blessing that He has to withhold. When I was able to get away from the basic record company secular system -- which I still got to operate in that, but now I own my own company, Skaggs Family Records, its my company, and God has blessed us with being able to do that.

SCOTT ROSS: And as a result of that, youve been seeing greater fruit, if you will, because youve been garnering all sorts of Grammy awards and recognition and, I assume, sales since then, havent you?

RICKY SKAGGS: Its been wonderful. Weve come out with three albums and won three Grammies, so its just been amazing. Finally we got to do a gospel album.

SCOTT ROSS: Skaggs music continues to be very popular, but now theres a message in his music that comes from his own heart.

RICKY SKAGGS: I had this deep-calling-unto-deep going on in my heart, to get back to really what was real, to really get back to the simple things in life, a lifestyle that pleased the Lord in everything that I did.

SCOTT ROSS: What was it that transpired with your son? Millions of people were praying. I remember your secretary saying, 'Pray! Pray! Pray!'

RICKY SKAGGS: When you get a doctor on the phone saying, 'Mr. Skaggs, you need to get here, we just dont think your son is going to live through the night,' you have to stand and say, 'I reject that word. I break that word. That is not the truth. My son will live and not die.'

SCOTT ROSS: Why was he in that condition? Was it a car accident?

RICKY SKAGGS: No, it was double pneumonia. He had lost his gallbladder and spleen in a car accident five years before. This is the third time now that he has been that close to deaths door, and the Lord has spared him three times.

SCOTT ROSS: One of the words we use in describing revival is restoration, or visitation from God. Do you see that coming to America?

RICKY SKAGGS: In a way, yeah, but not in a way that we thought it would come. I think the face of the church is going to change. Its not going to be churchy anymore. It's not going to be come into the house. You may drive to the grocery store and fall out under the power of Lord.

SCOTT ROSS: With his new gospel album and performances across the country, he hopes to bring the presence of the Lord to his audiences and prepare them for Christs return.

RICKY SKAGGS: God is getting ready to come to us before He comes for us. His presence is coming to us. Thats what is going to change the world. That is what is going to fill our churches. Thats what is going to evangelize the nations. It is worship and the presence of the Lord. When they see Jesus, they wont want anything else.

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