Alison Krauss Hypnotizes Crowd With Keith Whitley Cover At CMAs In 1995
Alison Krauss, an iconic female vocalist in the bluegrass and country music world, beautifully performed one of the most timeless love songs to ever exist.
At the 29th annual CMA awards in Nashville, Tennessee, Alison Krauss brought the house down with her flawless performance of “When You Say Nothing at All.”
Written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, this well-known love ballad has earned accolades time and time again. It became Keith Whitley’s second recording to make it to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1988 following his hit song “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” 7 years later, it became Alison Krauss’ first solo top-10 country hit in 1995. It was later recorded by Irish singer, Frances Black, becoming her third Irish top-10 single in 1996. Black’s recording was then heard by Irish pop singer Ronan Keaton who recorded it just 3 years later in 1999 becoming his first solo single and a number-one hit in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand.
Overstreet admits to Songfacts that Schlitz was the one who originally had the idea for the song.
“Don Schlitz had a dream about it. We went in to write and he told me about the idea. We started writing it right then. It’s kind of hard to explain, but did you ever see the old Dick Van Dyke Show? You know how Buddy and Sally and Dick would all be in the room and they’d start brainstorming and throwing ideas around? That’s kind of what we do in Nashville. So Don and I were just throwing out ideas. The line where it says, ‘Old Mr. Webster could never define,’ I thought that was cool. When I was a kid all we had was the encyclopedias and dictionaries and stuff like that. Nowadays you’ve got Google.
But it was such a fun song to write with the melody. I’d run into Keith Whitley at the airport. He was coming out, I was coming in, and we just stopped and talked for a while. He goes, ‘Man, would you write a song for me?’ I said, ‘Everybody wants to write you a song.’ He was on his way up like a rocket ship.
So the first place we took the song was to him. Garth Fundis was a friend of mine, and Garth loved the song. They cut it, and then 10 years after Keith died, they did a tribute album and Alison Krauss chose that song to sing. When I got a copy of it, they said, ‘This is Alison’s version. It’s not as good as Keith’s.’ But when I put it on, all the hair stood up all over my body. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me!?’ She sang it great. And because of her version, they used it in the movie Notting Hill. Ronan Keating of Boyzone sang it in that. In 2020, Ronan did a version and had Alison Krauss sing on it with him.”
Over the last 35 years, this song has earned its title as one of the most iconic country love songs in existence.
At the 1995 CMA Awards, everyone highly anticipated hearing Krauss sing her breathtaking version of this song, and she did not disappoint. The video of the performance shows a 24-year-old Alison Krauss with her fiddle in her hands as she effortlessly sings “When You Say Nothing at All.” She is accompanied by her band which consists of two guitars, a mandolin and an upright bass to deliver the flawless acoustic performance seen in the video below.