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Alison Krauss extends reign as country queen

Union Station singer collects 3 more Grammys, ties for No. 7 on all-time list
Alison Krauss along with Dan Tyminksi, right, and Jerry Douglas of the group Union Station accept the award for best country performance by a duo or group with vocal for \"Restless\" at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, in Los Angeles.Mark J. Terrill / AP
/ Source: Reuters

At only 34, bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss is the Queen of the Grammys.

No other woman has won more Victrola statuettes than she has, and in coming years she could be vying with Irish rockers U2 as the all-time Grammy champ.

Thanks to a clean sweep in her three categories on Wednesday, Krauss now ranks No. 7 with a career haul of 20 awards. U2 rose to No. 6 in the rankings with 22 awards, after winning five awards.

Krauss and her band Union Station won Grammys for country performance by a duo or group with vocals (“Restless”), best country instrumental performance (“Unionhouse Branch”), and best country album (“Lonely Runs Both Ways”).

Backstage, Krauss was at a loss to explain her popularity with Grammy voters. “I’m not going to ask questions,” she said.

As for her career, she added, “It’s amazing. We make records for ourselves and we send them in (to the label) when we’re done. We don’t have any meetings with anybody.”

Krauss released her first album in 1987, and won her first Grammy four years later, by which stage U2 already had tallied four Grammys. The Illinois native has helped give bluegrass music a commercial prominence at a time when mainstream genres were struggling to connect with consumers.

The venerable country music offshoot, pioneered in the Kentucky hills in the late 1930s by Bill Monroe, usually features banjos, mandolins and fiddles. It got one of its biggest jolts in 2002, when the 7-million-selling soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Are Thou?” won the Grammy for album of the year. Krauss sang on three of the tracks.

Some purists say her version of bluegrass has been watered down for the suburban masses, but those fans have helped her latest album, “Lonely Runs Both Ways,” sell a hefty 727,000 copies in the United States since its release in November 2003.

Krauss and U2 still have some way to go to reach classical composer Sir Georg Solti’s record haul of 31 total Grammys, but he — along with pianist Vladimir Horowitz (25, No. 4) and film composer Henry Mancini (20, No. 6) — are dead.

The only other living Grammy titans ahead of them are producer/composer Quincy Jones (No. 2 with 27 wins), French composer Pierre Boulez (No. 3 with 26), and Motown legend Stevie Wonder (No. 5, at 24 wins).