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Plenty of country at Ponoka

Wynonna and The Big Noise and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will each perform rollicking country tunes at the Ponoka Stampede next week.

The flame-haired singer, who started out as part of The Judds, will take the stage at the pro-chuckwagon show on Thursday, while The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will play at the Ponoka Stampede’s pro-rodeo show on Tuesday.

Wynonna has charted more than 20 hits in her solo career.

Her first three singles, She is His Only Need, I Saw the Light and No One Else on Earth all reached No. 1 on U.S. country charts, as did 1996’s To Be Loved By You.

Her second solo record, Tell Me Why, produced five Top 10 hits: the title track, Only Love, Is It Over Yet, Rock Bottom and Girls with Guitars. She also had a No. 1 hit with To Be Loved By You.

Some eight albums later, Wynonna debuted her new band Wynonna and the Big Noise and put out the single Something You Can’t Live Without earlier this spring. A studio album is expected in the fall.

The platinum-selling artist was inspired by the country music her mom listened to as she was being raised in Kentucky.

Wynonna learned to play the guitar she received as a Christmas present and began her music career in 1979 as a duo with her mom, Naomi Judd.

The Judds had a stellar run before the duo disbanded in 1991, due to Naomi’s health problems.

During most of the 1980s they were the biggest selling duo in country music, charting 23 hit singles (including 14 No. 1 hits), racking up 20 million record sales worldwide, and accrued 60 industry awards, including five Grammys.

Wynonna, now 49, is beloved by fans for her music, as well as her frankness about life’s challenges.

In 2003, she spoke on The Oprah Winfrey Show about her “food dependency” and became the U.S. spokesperson for an FDA-approved weight loss product.

The thrice-married singer and mother of two agreed in 2008 to do an online question-and-answer session with fans that was so popular the server crashed.

Some 18,000 people eventually logged on for her live web chat.

Wynonna has recorded songs for movies, lent her voice the cartoon series The Magic School Bus, and played guest roles on the TV serials Touched By An Angel and Hope & Faith, She also had a television special, Wynonna: A Tribute on Ice, hosted the 2007 season of Nashville Star, and was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has existed in various forms since being founded in Long Beach California in 1966.

Albums, such as Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume One and Two, and a cover version of Mr. Bojangles are among the band’s many successes.

Founder and singer/guitarist Jeff Hanna continues to be a staple of the group, as well as drummer Jimmie Fadden.

Multi-instrumentalist John McEuen and keyboardist John Carpenter are also veteran members who left the Grammy-Award-winning group for a time before rejoining.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which once included luminaries Jackson Browne and former Eagle Bernie Leadon, has recorded with the who’s-who of country music, including Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash and the Carter Family, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, John Prine, Levon Helm, John Denver and John Hiatt, Bruce Hornby and others.

Tickets to the 6:30 p.m. Wynonna concert on rodeo grounds are $43.

Tickets to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band event are $28.

Both are available from Ticketmaster.



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