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Thursday, November 14

Larry Stephenson Band
Kim Robins Band
Williamson Branch
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road
Country Grass

Donna Ulisse, Daryl Mosley
Jerry Salley, Larry Cordle
Rick Stanley



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Saturday, November 16

Paul Williams & Victory Trio Reunion
Dale Ann Bradley
Deeper Shade of Blue
Dean Osborne Band
Kentucky Just Us
Little Roy and Lizzy Show
Headin’ Home Bluegrass

Donna Ulisse: A Shining Star in Bluegrass Music

Bluegrass music, with its rich tapestry of storytelling and melodic tradition, has seen many remarkable artists contribute to its legacy. Among these is Donna Ulisse, a singer-songwriter whose heartfelt music has touched audiences around the world. Known for her soulful voice and masterful songwriting, Donna Ulisse has made a significant impact on the bluegrass scene. This article explores her life, career, and enduring contributions to bluegrass music.

Donna Ulisse was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, where music was an integral part of her upbringing. Surrounded by a family that cherished country and bluegrass music, Donna developed a deep appreciation for these genres from an early age. Her grandfather, a Pentecostal preacher, often played bluegrass gospel, which profoundly influenced her musical journey.

From a young age, Donna showed a natural talent for singing and songwriting. She began performing in local venues and quickly gained a reputation for her powerful voice and emotive performances. These early experiences laid the foundation for her future career in music.

In the 1980s, Donna Ulisse moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer-songwriter. Nashville, known as the heart of country and bluegrass music, provided the perfect backdrop for Donna to hone her craft. She signed with Atlantic Records and released her debut album, "Trouble at the Door," in 1991. The album featured several hit singles and showcased Donna's unique blend of country and bluegrass influences.

Despite her early success, Donna faced the challenges of a rapidly changing music industry. However, her passion for music and dedication to her craft never wavered. She continued to write songs and perform, gradually shifting her focus more towards bluegrass music.

Donna Ulisse's transition to bluegrass was marked by her 2007 album, "When I Look Back." The album received critical acclaim and established Donna as a formidable presence in the bluegrass community. Her soulful voice, combined with her talent for storytelling, resonated deeply with listeners.

Following the success of "When I Look Back," Donna released several more albums, each one further cementing her reputation as a leading bluegrass artist. Albums like "Walk This Mountain Down," "Holy Waters," and "Hard Cry Moon" showcased her growth as a songwriter and performer, earning her numerous awards and accolades.

At the heart of Donna Ulisse's music is her exceptional songwriting. Her ability to craft songs that tell compelling stories and evoke deep emotions is a testament to her talent and dedication. Donna's songs often explore themes of love, faith, and personal reflection, drawing from her own life experiences and the rich tradition of bluegrass storytelling.

Donna has written songs for many other artists in the bluegrass and country music scenes, further highlighting her versatility and influence. Her songwriting has earned her multiple awards, including the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) Songwriter of the Year.

Throughout her career, Donna Ulisse has collaborated with a wide range of artists, enriching her music and expanding her reach. She has worked with notable musicians such as Jerry Salley, Carl Jackson, and Claire Lynch, creating memorable musical moments that have delighted audiences.

One of her notable collaborations was with Doyle Lawson on the song "Backroad," which became a fan favorite. These partnerships have allowed Donna to explore new musical territories and bring fresh perspectives to her work.

Donna Ulisse's live performances are a testament to her talent and charisma. Whether performing solo or with her band, Donna's concerts are characterized by their energy, emotion, and authenticity. Her ability to connect with audiences through her music and storytelling makes her performances a memorable experience.

Donna often shares the stories behind her songs during her shows, providing audiences with a deeper understanding of her creative process. This personal touch, combined with her masterful musicianship, creates a unique and intimate concert experience that resonates with fans.

Donna Ulisse's contributions to bluegrass music have had a lasting impact on the genre. Her soulful voice, masterful songwriting, and dedication to her craft have inspired a new generation of bluegrass artists. Donna's ability to blend traditional bluegrass elements with contemporary themes has helped keep the genre fresh and relevant.

In addition to her musical contributions, Donna is known for her commitment to the bluegrass community. She actively participates in bluegrass festivals, workshops, and educational programs, sharing her knowledge and experience with aspiring musicians. Her dedication to nurturing the next generation of bluegrass artists underscores her passion for the genre and its future.

Throughout her career, Donna Ulisse has received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions to bluegrass music. She has been nominated for and won multiple IBMA awards, including Songwriter of the Year. Her albums have received critical acclaim, and her songs have topped bluegrass charts.

Donna's song "I've Always Had a Song I Can Lean On" won the IBMA Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year, showcasing her ability to blend her faith with her music. These accolades reflect Donna's impact on the bluegrass community and her enduring legacy as an artist.

Looking ahead, Donna Ulisse continues to write, record, and perform, bringing her unique brand of bluegrass to audiences around the world. She is currently working on new music and exploring opportunities to collaborate with other artists. Donna's commitment to growth and innovation ensures that her music will continue to evolve, captivating listeners for years to come.

In addition to her musical projects, Donna remains dedicated to mentoring young musicians and sharing her knowledge through workshops and educational programs. Her passion for bluegrass and her desire to inspire others ensure that her influence will be felt for generations to come.


What sets Donna Ulisse apart in the bluegrass genre? Donna Ulisse stands out for her exceptional songwriting, soulful voice, and ability to tell compelling stories through her music. Her blend of traditional and contemporary bluegrass elements creates a unique and captivating sound.

How did Donna Ulisse's early life influence her music? Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Donna was surrounded by country and bluegrass music. Her early exposure to these genres, combined with her family's musical background, shaped her future career as a singer-songwriter.

What are some of Donna Ulisse's most popular songs? Some of Donna Ulisse's most popular songs include "I've Always Had a Song I Can Lean On," "Drive This Cold Out of Me," and "Walk This Mountain Down." These tracks showcase her talent for crafting heartfelt and memorable lyrics.

How does Donna connect with her audience during live performances? Donna Ulisse connects with her audience through her heartfelt delivery and storytelling. She often shares the stories behind her songs, providing audiences with a deeper understanding of her creative process and making each performance a unique experience.

What impact has Donna Ulisse had on the bluegrass community? Donna Ulisse's contributions to bluegrass music have inspired many contemporary artists and helped shape the sound of modern bluegrass. Her dedication to nurturing the next generation of bluegrass musicians underscores her commitment to the genre's future.

What are Donna Ulisse's future plans? Donna Ulisse continues to write, record, and perform, with upcoming projects including new music and potential collaborations with other artists. She remains dedicated to mentoring young musicians and sharing her knowledge through workshops and educational programs.

Donna Ulisse's journey in bluegrass music is a testament to her talent, dedication, and love for storytelling. From her early days in Hampton, Virginia, to her rise to prominence in the bluegrass community, Donna has made significant contributions to the genre. Her exceptional songwriting, soulful voice, and commitment to nurturing the next generation of bluegrass artists make her a true luminary in the world of music. As she continues to evolve and inspire, Donna Ulisse's legacy in bluegrass music will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.

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Rick Stanley: A True Bluegrass Maestro
Larry Cordle: A Pillar of Bluegrass Music

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Hotels in Gatlinburg
Limited rooms with group rates. 

Marriott Downtown

Right across the street


315 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



5-minute walk/FREE Breakfast


967 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN, 37738


Sidney James
Mountain Lodge

Trolly available to many attractions


610 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Microtel Inn
and Suites

Right across the street


211 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738



5-minute walk


504 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Reagan Resorts


Right across from the entrance


235 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Baymont by Wyndham

LeConte Motor Lodge
A Ramada by Wyndham

In front of the Convention Center on the main strip


929 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

Super 8

Gatlinburg Town Square

Econo Lodge

green border bottomMore Information About 
Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies

Advanced Ticket Prices
3 Day Reserved $100
3 Day General $90
One Day General $40
Credit card charges
Not included in the ticket price 
$3 for 3 days or $2 per day
Parking at hotels is free
Parking lots walking distance of Gatlinburg Convention Center and Mills Auditorium - $5 to $20

More Information Here
(5 Minutes Out)

Leconte Campground

Twin Creek Campground
Gatlinburg Convention Center
Mills Auditorium
 gatlinburg logo
234 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN

For Tickets to Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies

BUY TICKETS HERE or call Krissy at 919-609-6740 Mon-Fri 3:30 pm till 6 pm (leave a message anytime) or use the contact form here. For band information, call 919-779-5672 Ext 1