Rudy Grant: Some things matter more than a shot at the big time
Posted by Don Morreale
March 25, 2014

"Maybe the big time ain’t all it’s cracked up to be".

Rudy-Hub That’s the conclusion country singer Rudy Grant came to when Columbia Records offered him an audition back in 1975. The record companies were vying with one another to discover the next Charley Pride, and somehow word got back to them about an African American country singer in Denver who might just fit the bill. At the time, Rudy and his band, “The Uncommon Herd,” were playing at a joint called “The King’s Loft” in Aurora. The reps Columbia sent were none other than Sonny Wright, and his wife, Loretta Lynn’s little sister, Peggy Sue.
Grant turned them down flat.

“I had two young daughters who needed a father,” Grant said by way of explanation. To support his growing family, he was working three jobs; one as an optician at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, another as a passenger services agent with United Airlines, and a third playing gigs in honky-tonks from Aurora, to Golden, to Boulder. To him, a recording contract looked like so much pie in the sky.

“Mr. Wright said the only reason he was even talking to me was because of Charley Pride’s popularity,” Grant said. “That pretty much made my mind up for me right there.”

Rudy Grant story reads a little like the lyrics to a country song. He was born on a farm outside of Shreveport, Louisiana, the 7th son in a family of 19 brothers and sisters. The family moved to a farm near Bastrop in the northeast corner of the state, where they picked cotton, raised vegetables, and hunted and fished for food.
“At age 14, something got into me,” Grant said. “I started feeling restless, like there’s gotta be something else out there.”

Late one night he packed a bag, climbed out of his bedroom window, and hitchhiked into Bastrop. He spent his first night away from home sleeping under the front steps of the local pool hall.

The local grocer gave him a job stacking shelves, pumping gas, fixing flats, changing oil, delivering groceries, and running errands for $25 bucks a week plus meals. A year and a half later he figured he was ready to move on. Tricked out in a green cowboy hat, mirror sunglasses, and a clean pair of overalls, he boarded a Greyhound bus to Denver where he had an uncle willing to take him in. Here he earned his GED and took a civil service exam that ultimately led to the job at Fitzsimons.

All through this time he was teaching himself to play the guitar, and acquiring an extensive repertoire of country songs. Apparently he got pretty good at it, because at a Christmas party at work one year, a banjo-pickin’ co-worker heard him and invited him to a Sunday evening open stage at a bar called “The Four Seasons.” Grant got up and knocked out an old Conway Twitty tune. Less than a month later he was fronting his own band.

“We played covers of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, and of course Charley Pride,” he said. “This was in 1965. I was the closest thing people could see to Charley Pride.”
Now retired after more than 33 years in government service, he’s put together a new band called “Rudy Grant and the Buffalo Riders.”

“We play twice a month at White Fence Farm, once a month at the Blossom in Windsor Gardens, and a dinner show every Friday night at Lupita’s in Aurora,” he said. “In May we go on tour in England with a British group called The Salt Creek Band. Country music at this stage in my life is the one thing I’m truly passionate about. The biggest joy in my heart is when I look out at the audience and see a nodding smile on their faces. The big time doesn’t interest me, but boy I do love the local scene.”

Don Morreale’s collection of YourHub stories, “Cowboys, Yogis, and One-legged Ski Bums,” is scheduled for release later this spring.

About the Author Don Morreale

A frequent contributor to yourhub, Don Morreale has been a Denver resident since 1965. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Denver University College and is the author of The Complete Guide to Buddhist America (Shambhala, 1998). He’s been teaching meditation and stress-reduction aboard the ships of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines since 2004, and coaches the public speaking team at Zhejiang Scientific and Technical University, Hangzhou, China.





Rudy Grant WOWs 'em in England

After reading a number of articles from the "Country Comment", Glouchester, England, Rudy Grant was welcomed with open arms at the Station Hotel, Swindon Silver Dollar, the Stagecoach Country Music Club, the Nostalgia Country Music Club, the El Paso Club and the Barton St. Fayre. Touring with his English friend, Dusty Rhodes, Rudy played and sang his way through the Glouchester countryside in early September of this year. Rudy was so well received that he will be returning there to hold one of his CD release parties in May of 2003. Rudy sat in with a number of English country bands singing and playing his own style of country music. After appearing at one or two clubs, he had formed a following which made their way to the rest of his gigs. With these appearences and his on stage performances in Las Vegas, Rudy Grant is really becoming an international presence in Country Music.

This article was published in the November 2002 edition of the Colorado Country Connection

Colorado Performers Strike Gold In Nebraska
During the week of October 14th, the town of Hastings Nebraska hosted the Nebraska Country Music Festival. This highly attended festival is an opportunity for country music performers from all over the United States to compete and/or just entertain. There was a gospel group from Chicago, an Indian troupe from Ohio, a George Jones impersonator, and singers from all age groups from six to seventy. Four performers from Colorado: Kay Clark, Glen Brookins, Karen Osburn, and Clip Cookson, drove to Hastings on September 16th and were proud to represent Denver as part of Rudy Grant's Country Music Showcase.

Starting on the morning of the 17th, they joined up with Rudy and he put them through a grinder of musical events. These included restaurants, senior center complexes, shopping malls, and the Adams County Fairgrounds in Hastings. Early in the morning, Karen, Kay and Glen were interviewed at local radio station KRGI, and Karen's songs from her CD "A Man I Love" were placed on the stations playlist and are now part of their daily show. At the fairgrounds show on Thursday night, the complete Rudy Grant Showcase consisted of Rudy as lead vocal and guitar, Kay Clark as vocalist, Danny Barnes as vocalist and guitar, Karen Osburn on bass and vocals and Clip Cookson on steel guitar. Kay Clark, who is now a perennial favorite at the festival, knocked over a packed house with her South Wales accent and fine vocal renditions.

The ever-popular Rudy Grant wowed the room with songs from his almost completed but highly secret CD. Danny Barnes not only sang and played guitar, but also provided dance demonstrations with a number of different partners. On the steel, Clip proved that Nebraska folks appreciated some authentic country sounds. Glen sold Karen's CD and carefully video taped the shows. Karen Osburn was the featured vocalist of the showcase, and took Nebraska by storm, but more about that later! After the Thursday show, Rudy used his personal popularity and prestige to persuade a local Italian restaurant to open after hours and provide a four-star meal for just the members of the showcase and a few friends. Way too much food was consumed. On Friday, the day of the competition, there were no seats available after 5:00 p.m., even though events didn't start until 7:00.

This smoothly operated contest would last until 2:00 a.m. and included a professional band and soundman to aid the participants. This was a night for Karen Osburn. She added Cookson's steel guitar to the regular back-up band, sang and played both the drums and bass. Later in the evening, she was asked to play with the gospel band from Chicago. It cooked! The enthusiastic crowd responded by giving her an armfull of trophies for songwriter of the year, best female vocalist, and top professional instrumentalist of the year. The evenings events were crowned by Rudy Grant's winning a huge trophy for Male Vocalist of the Year in a field of incredible competition. After the events concluded, Glen Brookins held one of his "no expenses spared" parties at his hotel room. They also found out that Glen had recorded 2 shows with no tape in the camera.

This article was published in the November 2002 edition of the Colorado Country Connection