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Alison Krauss battles Shania Twain for a Grammy

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Alison Krauss
Courtesy Rounder Records Group

Alison Krauss is no stranger to the Grammys: She’s won 10 of them in her 20-year career. And Wednesday night the 28-year-old fiddler/singer is in the running for two more. Her latest release, ”Forget About It,” is up for Best Country Album, and she’s nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance against country-pop divas Shania Twain and Faith Hill, Martina McBride, and the staunch traditionalist Emmylou Harris.

Krauss, whose voice is often compared to a young Dolly Parton, sees the differences in musical styles among the female country nominees this year as an evolution of sorts. ”What we’ve known as country in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s is much different than what’s considered country today,” Krauss tells EW Online. ”There’s a different focus for music now. Remember when you heard somebody on the radio and you wondered what they looked like? Now you see somebody on TV and you wonder what they sound like.”

Growing up, Krauss ”loved top 40 pop… ELO, Foreigner, Lynard Skynard,” and she recently bought fellow Grammy nominees TLC’s latest album, ”FanMail.” So it should come as no surprise that Krauss herself has known pop success. Her 1995 release ”Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection” sold more than a million copies and hit the Billboard Top 10 by applying a bluegrass sensibility to such pop classics as the Beatles’ ”I Will.” But the singer says she doesn’t have such mass appeal in mind when she’s making an album: ”After we did ‘Now’ we went right back in and cut a bluegrass record. I really don’t think [of how well an album will sell] when we’re putting songs together for a record. I work too hard in the studio to change it [just to achieve] some other type of success.”

In fact, Krauss could give teen phenoms (and Best New Artist nominees) Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera some pointers about career longevity. When Krauss won her first Grammy at 19, it was just the first of many high points of a love that began when she started taking violin lessons at the age of 5. (To be fair, the singer modestly professes she ”pretty much sucked” at first.) She won the Illinois state fiddle championship at 12, and to this day credits losing an ”Annie” sing-alike when she was 9 as a major inspiration to improving her voice.

And Krauss might tell Spears and Aguilera not to worry too much about any controversy stirred up by their sexy lyrics. ”I think people should get to sing whatever they want,” she says. ”Everybody feels [love and heartbreak], whether they’re in second grade or hanging out with my grandmother.”

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