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Peter One - From Obscurity to The Opry

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Okay, Peter One may not be a household name here in the States but there has been enough of a buzz about this musician for the Grand Ole Opry to take note. Peter made his debate on that legendary stage on April 14, 2023. His melodic set at the Opry was a winner and likely won him some new fans.


Peter One made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2023.

Peter One's journey as a musician from Cote d'Ivoire to Nashville, Tennessee is a story of arrivals both literal and metaphorical. One grew up in a small town that had only one radio station but it exposed him to American country and folk music. He was also influenced by African troubadours like Benin's G.G. Vickey and the Cameroonian Eboa Lotin. Peter blended these various styles into his own unique sound.

His arrival at the University of Abidjan would lead to his music becoming so popular that he was performing to large crowds throughout the African continent. In the mid-1990s, due to political unrest he moved to America. Landing in New York, he had to start all over again. One became a nurse to provide for his family and that career eventually led them to Nashville, Tennessee


Also on the bill - Gary LeVox.

"I never thought about living in Nashville. Never, until I got a job here! But when I landed here, I went to Broadway and I could just feel it, and I said, 'this is a place for music.' I saw music everywhere-everybody plays music, everybody's a musician-and I said, Wow, this is the world for me." However, the Abidjan star was an unknown in Music City until 2018.

As luck or fate would have it a former Fulbright scholar named Brian Shimkovitz who had spent time in West Africa in the early 2000s started a label called Awesome Tapes from Africa. He wanted to re-release One's smash album Our Garden Needs Its Flowers. Brian contacted co-writer Jess Sah Bi and Peter, and the three of them agreed to it. The record received rave reviews in Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. That exposure raised Peter's musical profile in the States.


Also on the bill - Don Schlitz.

One's new album Come Back To Me is scheduled for release in early May of 2023. According to Rolling Stone "Come Back to Me builds on the promise of Our Garden Needs Its Flowers with folky, largely acoustic tunes that lean toward hope and positivity. The percussive "Cherie Vico" makes appeals for reconciliation in its call-and-response vocals; "Joue-Moi le Piano" has a smoky, jazzy quality; and the joyous "Bonne Annee" features the voice of his old singing partner Jess Sah Bi, who now lives in California. He also touches on the conflict in Côte D'Ivoire in "Kavudu," singing in French, English, and Guro."

At the Opry, One played a number of persuasive poetic pieces. "Birds Go Die Out Of Sight (Don't Go Home)" was compelling. It is from his new record and it features singer Allison Russell. Peter has a smooth warm voice that draws people in and from our perspective he was well received and it was implied that he would be invited back.


Also on the bill - Ricky Skaggs, Shelly Fairchild, Brett Kissel and Moe Bandy.

At The Opry Peter was joined by a fine line up that was book-ended by long time members - Riders In The Sky with their comedic country western style to the classic bluegrass sounds of Ricky Skaggs. Interestingly, the night paid tribute to a lot of the legends. Canadian Brett Kissel played a Johnny Cash medley. He shared that as a kid he was a big fan, so Brett wrote a letter to JR after June passed and on the very day Mr. Cash died, Kissel received a signed photo from Cash in the mail. Shelly Fairchild presented a punchy version of Lorretta Lynn's "Fist City" while Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts fame had fans clapping and singing along to his captivating cover of the well known "Life is a Highway" by Canadian rocker Tom Cochrane.

A lot of folks may not have known who Peter One was and they may have thought the same of Don Schlitz. However, Don explained that he was a songwriter who had been advised by his friend Vince Gill to make sure to say 'I wrote this song' so folks would not think it was just bad karaoke. Schlitz has penned plenty of popular songs and he received a standing ovation for "The Gambler" made famous by Kenny Rogers. Peter was in good company on Friday and we hope that he will indeed be welcomed back to the scared circle soon.


Also on the bill - Riders In The Sky.

Related Links: For more information on PETER ONE and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Peter One | OPRY.com


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