Award for “Bluegrass Gospel CD of the Year” for Nashville’s Ronnie Dean Ronnie Dean: Fulfilling His Father’s Vision with Music and Gifting

By PHIL SWEETLAND Music+Radio contributor

NASHVILLE – With his new album, Ronnie Dean is fulfilling what he’s always felt was his musical destiny.

That’s because at long last, Ronnie is able to sing, write, and record the full range of his immense musical talents and imagination, which will showcase his love for many genres of music, from Christian to Bluegrass to jazz and all points in between.

That’s a journey that began in Seattle, a place Ronnie liked way more then than now.

“At that time, Seattle was a pretty neat city,” he said in early March. “It offered a lot of growth in itself. Now it’s just like New York City, with six lanes going each way and jammed.”

Early on, Ronnie worked on cars and hot rods, and took up the trumpet in school bands. “It was a cool instrument, if I hadn’t had a teacher who would have let me play what I heard in my head instead of Sousa marches,” he says.


Ronnie’s mother, a classically trained violinist and pianist, went with him to see that teacher, and Mom ended up siding with her jazz-inclined son.

His Dad loved country music, and had a large collection of 78s from classic artists including Hank Snow that he often spun at neighborhood dances the family held in the basement.

Through his father’s hand Ronnie soon taught himself guitar, playing by ear using a unique method – he played along with commercials on TV.

“I always had a guitar in my hands,” he says. “It drove my mother nuts.”

Dad also loved complex, ethnic dance music including Polkas and Schottisches, and Ronnie’s passion for groove and tempo music has remained a key component of his work ever since.

Eventually his Dad told Ronnie, “you’ve gone past me.”

After high school, Ronnie joined the popular Seattle band Good Vibrations, and spent several years on the road, playing the Holiday Inn circuit all over Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

It was tough, at times dangerous work, as Ronnie and the band were involved in a rollover accident near Coos Bay, Oregon, which through the grace of God they all walked away from.

Ronnie soon went to work as a commercial music and jingle composer for Raleigh Bicycles in Seattle, giving him access to many of the finest studios and session players in the Northwest.

His musical tastes were always diverse, from the Beatles and Three Dog Night to country rockers like Pure Prairie League and jazz wizards like George Benson.

Ronnie’s strong Christian faith has always played a gigantic role in his life and music, and in 1989 he moved to Nashville in part to pursue Contemporary Christian Music, which is based in Nashville and suburban Franklin.

Another reason was that his musical peers told Ronnie he had pretty much maxed out in Seattle.

“A bunch of friends were kicking me in the butt, telling me that I needed to go to Nashville,” he says, smiling.

At the same time, Dean’s mechanical aptitude paid off big-time as Ronnie founded a custom onsite furniture restoration business, which has thrived in Middle Tennessee. His piano restoration work has earned Ronnie recognition throughout the Southeast, and he’s worked on the pianos of many country and pop superstars.

Once he got here, however, the music scene wasn’t all he thought it would be.

“It’s one word, disheartening,” Ronnie says.

Happily, Ronnie kept writing, recording, and touring. He recorded two powerhouse Christian albums, So Many Times and Thief In The Night, which are still available on his Web site.

And two years ago, Ronnie discovered a music which has changed his life – Bluegrass.

“I love Bluegrass because it’s fun,” Ronnie says. “It’s something new that I haven’t done before. The whole genre of Bluegrass is huge, and I had no idea that it’s as big as it is.”

Besides, Ronnie’s Bluegrass work led him to a wonderful new marriage, to a Americana Bluegrass banjo player formerly named Nancy Held whose fans have long known by her stage name as Digger Lou.

Working with longtime bass sideman Ron de la Vega and Hank Jr. Dobro and steel player Mike Daly, Ronnie is putting the finishing touches on an album that at last combines all of his musical influences in one package.

It’s a remarkably emotional experience.

“I’ve been holding back for years, and I’m sick of it,” he says. “People don’t like you to show what you know, but now I’m gonna have fun. Me and God are the only ones I have to please.”

That’s a Dynamic Duo which Ronnie has felt most comfortable with his whole life, and now at long last his new single “Everything” and album are giving him the chance to show the full range of his talents.


Press Releases


2012 Award for “Bluegrass Gospel CD of the Year” for Nashville’s Ronnie Dean

Ronnie Dean - "Everything" - Bluegrass Gospel CD of the Year

Tradition Magazine Review






© 2015 Ronnie Dean