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Alison Brown Knew She Couldn't Finish 'Foggy Morning Breaking' Alone — So She Called Steve Martin

The accomplished banjo virtuoso is joined by the Only Murders in the Building actor on the collaboration, featured on her upcoming album On Banjo

Compass Records Alison Brown
Compass Records Alison Brown

Grammy-winning musician Alison Brown has never considered herself much of a cook, Nevertheless, she does adore the kitchen of her Nashville home.

In fact, it's her second favorite room in the house.

"Creating food is a way of expressing love and it's also a way of expressing creativity," Brown tells PEOPLE in a recent interview. "I enjoy doing that but having a banjo in my hands is always my number one favorite thing."

The accomplished banjo virtuoso, 60, burst into the once male-dominated genre of bluegrass back in 1991 when she became the first woman to win an International Bluegrass Music Association award in an instrumental category. And in doing so, Brown singlehandedly created a seismic shift in the instrument's history.


"So yeah, my banjo room is my favorite room in the house," chuckles Brown of the room where various versions of her favorite instrument line the walls and trophies line the shelves. "I've got lots of projects on my desk in there and things that I'm working on."

Compass Records Alison Brown
Compass Records Alison Brown

And during the pandemic a few years back, one of those projects was a song. She began writing "Foggy Morning Breaking" in honor of her late friend, accomplished banjo player John Hartford.

"The title comes from a lyric in [Hartford's] song 'Down on the Levee,'" remembers Brown. "I've always loved that expression, 'Foggy Morning Breaking' because it's a play on 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown,' which is one of the most popular banjo tunes ever."

In the middle of creating the song "Foggy Morning Breaking," Brown said she knew exactly who she needed to call to help her finish it — her friend and Grammy-winning musician, actor and author Steve Martin.

Compass Records Alison Brown
Compass Records Alison Brown

"When I suggested it to Steve, he thought it made a lot of sense because we both have a connection to John Hartford," she says of the collaboration that ultimately resulted in the song, with the video premiering exclusively on PEOPLE. "Steve worked with John on The Smothers Brothers Show years ago and we own the studio where John recorded many of his albums. So it was a way for both of us to give a tip of the hat to John."

Related:Billy Gilman Opens Up About New Bluegrass Single 'Roller Coaster' and His 'Perfect Storm' Next Chapter

The finished song also now serves as an excuse for Brown to tip her own hat to her fellow banjo extraordinaire, whose comedy chops often overshadow his impressive music career.

"Steve loves the banjo," says Brown, who grew up in La Jolla, California and was "a banjo player when everybody else was a surfer or a surfer chick." "He takes it really seriously. He's really trying to be the best player that he can be. He's got such an incredible work ethic to begin with, but when you see how hard he works at trying to be the best banjo player he could be, it's really inspiring."

Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Steve Martin
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Steve Martin

And while the writing of the song was completed over Zoom, "Foggy Morning Breaking" was recorded in person. "Steve was in town to do a show, and so he came in and we recorded the banjo parts at the same time," remembers Brown.

Her collaboration with Martin, 77, is just one of the many soon to be featured on her upcoming album On Banjo, set for release on May 5. In fact, the project will also include Brown's collaborations with virtuoso mandolinist Sierra Hull, Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, multicultural chamber group Kronos Quartet, Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, and fiddle stalwart Stuart Duncan.

And in the future, Brown says she hopes to collaborate even more with not only the talented men of bluegrass music, but also the growing legion of women.

"It's all about empowering the sisterhood and creating opportunities for each other," Brown tells PEOPLE. "We've got to really empower the next generation."

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Read the original article on People.