When I first was attracted to bluegrass, it was the lead
instruments, particularly the banjo, which captured my imagination.
In contrast, I was not particularly drawn to the singing,
which seemed to me sort of old-fashioned and excessively rural.
At this point, my viewpoint is completely reversed. I still
love bluegrass instrumentation, but I am completely addicted
to bluegrass singing. To hear it is a truly spiritual experience,
especially when you are singing one of the parts.
As a rule, bluegrass verses are sung by a single, lead vocalist
singing solo. Traditional bluegrass singers often sing relatively
high in their range and with a relatively high volume. Bluegrass
music dates from the 1920s and the days of the Kerosene
Circuit, when the music was performed purely acoustically
and without amplification. The singing had to be loud to be
heard over the loud instruments and the instruments had to
be loud to be heard without amplification. This is exactly
how it is still performed in jam sessions, and the high, loud
singing gives it its legendary high lonesome sound.
It is important to realize that bluegrass jam sessions are
usually not "sing-a-longs". For each song, there
is generally one lead singer, and that singer sings all the
verses For that song, the lead singer chooses the song and
the key. If you like to sing, you should learn some good songs
and offer to take the lead on a song or two. As always, when
a lead singer is singing a verse, your job is to support him
instrumentally as best you can and if you cannot help, stay
out of the way.