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Phil Leadbetter Signs with Mountain Home Music Company

May 5, 2021

A three-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Resophonic Guitar Player of the Year award, Phil Leadbetter has been a mainstay of the bluegrass world for decades, earning accolades for not just for his solo work, but for his contributions to a series of acclaimed groups and recordings. Now, with the announcement of his signing to Mountain Home Music Company, he starts a new chapter in what is already a storied career.

“I am so happy to be part of the Mountain Home family,” says Leadbetter. “I know quite a few of the artists on the roster there, and I know they are all top notch—and that says a lot about this great label. I’m looking forward to the future!”

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1962, Leadbetter cut his teeth with a series of youthful bands that were good enough to have performed at the White House (when he was just 14) and throughout the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. By 1990, with stints as an instrumentalist and singer with Country Music Hall of Famer Grandpa Jones and iconic country singer Vern Gosdin under his belt, he joined the legendary J.D. Crowe and the New South, remaining with the banjo master until the turn of the century and appearing on two of the group’s projects, while also releasing his solo debut, made with a characteristically long list of friends and colleagues.

The 21st century found Leadbetter acknowledged as a resonator guitar master when Gibson released the Phil Leadbetter Signature Series Dobro guitar in 2003. Two years later, he won the first of his IBMA Resophonic Guitar Player awards, while scooping up an Instrumental Recording of the Year trophy for his second solo album, Slide Effects. A founding member of Wildfire, he went on to anchor the band Grasstowne with his long-time friend, Steve Gulley, before taking a step away from hard-core bluegrass in 2010 to join Grand Ole Opry members, The Whites.

Not long thereafter, Leadbetter was diagnosed with cancer, beginning a decade-long battle with the disease, inspiring countless members of the bluegrass community and beyond with his perseverance and good spirits. And despite the health challenges, he has continued to be a productive musician and creative force, releasing a third solo album in 2014, appearing with renowned singer Dale Ann Bradley and assembling a top-notch group of colleagues under the banner of The All-Stars of Bluegrass, helping to earn him another two Resophonic Guitar Player titles in 2014 and 2019. Known far and wide for his good humor, his commitment to musical excellence and, especially, his passion for the instrument he plays in all its many settings, Phil Leadbetter continues to be a valued member of the industry—and a reliable source of great music.

“I’ve known Phil for a quarter of a century,” says Mountain Home’s Jon Weisberger. “When he first reached out to me about joining the Mountain Home family, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting him on board. He has earned the respect of so many people in this industry, not only for his determination in the face of challenges, but for his big-hearted enthusiasm for and encouragement of his colleagues young and old—and above all, for his creativity. He’s truly a legend in the music!”

For his first project with Mountain Home, Leadbetter has wrangled a giant-sized compilation of music by a dazzling cross-genre array of resophonic guitar masters. Look for new music from Masters of Slide: Spider Sessions on Mountain Home Music Company soon.