Earlier this month, the International Bluegrass Music Association named Phil Leadbetter its 2014 Dobro player of the year — an award he also won in 2005.
Only two other people — Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes — have won the award in its 25-year history. They join Leadbetter as backing musicians on his new album.
The award caps a remarkable comeback for a man who was diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma three years ago.
Doctors warned that even if he survived the cancer, Leadbetter’s motor skills might be damaged by the medication he was taking to fight the cancer.
He never expected to play again.
But Leadbetter — and his skills — survived.
And he’s back with a new album — “The Next Move.”
The title comes from Leadbetter’s wondering what God had in store for him as he made the next move in his life.
The bad news is the cancer has returned and he’s back in a second fight for his life.
Leadbetter isn’t a vocalist, but he’s joined by a variety of friends who are on this album.
Shawn Camp sings a song he co-wrote, “Jesus, My Old Dog and Me,” one of the best songs on the album. He also vocalizes on “Pull The Trigger.”
Ken Mellons‘ version of “I’m A Modern Day Interstate Gypsy” is another great song .
John Cowan sings lead on “I’m A Ramblin’ Rolling Stone.” Marty Raybon and Joe Diffie share the vocal work on “Baptism.”
Steve Gulley and Dale Ann Bradley do “I’ve Never Seen A Love That Wasn’t Blind.” Steve Wariner does “Hole In The Earth.” Con Hunley sings “Georgia On My Mind.”
Matt Leadbetter adds his Dobro to his father’s for “Leadbelly,” a tune Phil Leadbetter wrote. “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” is done as a solo instrumental — just Phil Leadbetter and his Dobro.
Instrumental guests include Bela Fleck, Buck White, Sam Bush, Steve Thomas, Cory Walker, Mike Bub, Sierra Hull, Kenny Smith, Tim Crouch, Charlie Cushman, Carl Jackson and Alan Bibey among others.
It would be a great album if Leadbetter weren’t fighting for his life. But his battle against cancer makes it even more moving.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.PinecastleMusic.com.