|Ricky SkaggsSometimes in life, things come full circle. That's the story of Ricky Skaggs. By age 21, he was already considered a "recognized master" of one of America's most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music. Now the road has brought him back to where it all began - bluegrass music.2008 marks Ricky's 37th year as a professional musician, and this twelve-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Known affectionately today as bluegrass music's official ambassador, Ricky has brought the genre to greater levels of popularity in the past few years than the father of bluegrass music, the legendary Bill Monroe, could ever have imagined. With eight consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label (Bluegrass Rules! in 1998, Ancient Tones in 1999, both Soldier of the Cross and Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe in 2000, History of the Future in 2001, Live at the Charleston Music Hall in 2003, Brand New Strings in 2005, and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Instrumentals in 2007), bluegrass music is undoubtedly in good hands, with the masterful Skaggs at the helm.Ricky was born on July 18, 1954 in Cordell, Kentucky, and was already an accomplished singer and mandolin player by the time he reached his teens. In 1971, he entered the world of professional music with his friend, the late country singer, Keith Whitley, when the two young musicians were invited to join the band of bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley. Ricky soon began to build a reputation for creativity and excitement through live appearances and recordings with acts such as J.D. Crowe & the New South. He performed on the band's 1975 debut album for Rounder Records, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made. A stint as a bandleader with Boone Creek followed, bringing the challenges of leadership while giving him further recording and performing experience.Beginning in the late 1970s, Ricky turned his attention to country music. Though still in his 20s, the wealth of experience and talent he possessed served him well, first as a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist on his own. With the release of Waitin' for the Sun to Shine in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980s. As his popularity soared, he garnered eight awards from the Country Music Association (CMA), including "Entertainer of the Year" in 1985, four Grammy Awards, and dozens of other honors. These achievements also placed him front and center in the neo-traditionalist movement, bringing renewed vitality and prominence to a sound that had been somewhat subdued by the commercialization of the 'Urban Cowboy' fad. Renowned guitarist and producer, Chet Atkins, credited Skaggs with "single-handedly" saving country music.