Songwriters inspired to do Kentucky tribute album

Joanna-James performed "My Old Kentucky Home" at the state capitol in March.

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY (WDKY)-- Most people don't go to the state capitol carrying a guitar in a case and a song in their hearts. But James Moore and Joanna Lewis-Oldfield went to Frankfort in March to share their version of the state song with lawmakers.

It's a lively version of the Stephen Foster classic and drew a standing ovation from the crowd listening in the House of Representatives chambers.

Together, these two perform as Joanna-James. and it's their native state that has inspired almost everything they've been working on for the past three years

She lives in Morgan County; He lives in Lexington-- 90 miles apart. Yet, through phones calls and email, they're writing songs together almost every night and are starting to get noticed. They've performed several times at local wineries, tap rooms, fairs and festivals.

All artists sometimes get writer's block, but when Joanna-James decided to make its first album a tribute to Kentucky, their minds started racing like the horses at Keeneland.

"The ideas kept rolling," Joanna said. "Kentucky has such a rich culture and history. It was really easy to come up with the ideas to write songs about."

"In fact, Joanna had to kind of rein me in on that... put the brakes on it.," James said. "I think I stress her out by sending her too many ideas to work on."

The album, titled "Bluegrass and Roses, " will be released this spring. The pair debuted the title song recently on Overtones, a show hosted by Renee Collins on Lexington Community Radio. They've been frequent and favored guests on the program.

The duo has a folksy, jazzy sound as it sings about life in the mountains.

Joanna and James both have jobs that can be stressful. She's a registered nurse, he's a mental health counselor. So making music has been like therapy.

"When I was much younger, I thought I wanted to do music full time.," James said. "But this way, it's not a job... It's fun. "

Composers are told to write what you know. Joanna-James knows what a lot of us do-- that Kentucky can be a pretty inspiring place.


To find out more about Joanna-James and the album, go to

If you have ideas for Spirit of the Bluegrass, send an email to Marvin:

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