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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will 'Raise the Roof' with their first tour in 13 years

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. (David McClister)
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. (David McClister)

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are hitting the road again for the first time in 13 years.

The unlikely duo — a former rock star and Led Zeppelin frontman harmonizing with a bluegrass legend — won six Grammys for their 2007 album “Raising Sand.” They head out on tour together in June for their encore album “Raise the Roof” in November.

Krauss’ style of music and performance drew Plant to her. Prior to working with Krauss, Plant had performed with bands that didn’t use harmonies.

“There’s a sort of a very beautiful, muted serenity about the woman when she’s singing and performing,” he says. “There’s a sparkle in her voice and a sparkle in her eye, and it’s good to stand alongside a woman with such a gift.”

Krauss’ relationship with Plant’s music began in the ‘80s. When the duo first sang together, Plant brought up a record of The Stanley Brothers that Krauss grew up listening to. Their shared love for different kinds of music sparked great conversation, she says.

Krauss’ brother said when the two sing together, they create a third voice — something Krauss says she never experienced before working with Plant.

“We are so different,” she says. “It makes something, I think, really romantic, the sound of us singing together. It’s such different places we come from. It’s something really new.”

Watch on YouTube.

Interview Highlights

On how Robert Plant went from the frontman of one of the biggest rock bands in the world to singing harmony in a country song

Robert Plant: “Bottom line is, sadly, my life as a rock singer kind of died when [Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham passed away in 1980. So I’ve been busy ever since working my way through various aspects of music, whether it’s from North Africa or southern Louisiana. So I just get drawn to music that has a definitive passion and a draw.

“I was trained to be an accountant when I was a kid. For about the best part of six months, I went to work counting people’s money. And I figured if I were to do the same thing with music and just work repetitively with a style that had some legs and feet to it and nothing more than that, then I shouldn’t have gone out on this pathway in the first place. So I’m all ears and all expression, and I’m pretty good at learning stuff.

“The stuff that came to an end in September 1980 was beautiful and commendable, and it was the work of young people. I’ve been shifting gears from then right the way through. When I met Alison back there some 15 years ago plus, I found this door into a beautiful, expressive music, which allowed me to extend and develop my love and my gift.”

On the cover of “Quattro” by Calexico on “Raise the Roof”

Alison Krauss: “Robert found that and sent it. … That’s the one that I just went nuts about, and that one is the one that I thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got a record here.’

“How long have you known that song, Robert?”

Plant: “Quite a long time. … They’re writing and they’re recording, Calexico, superlative work. And I think that I’ve been carrying around this record collection called ‘Feast of Wire’ and another album called ‘Garden Ruin,’ and it’s just fantastic dynamics in the way that they write the record. It’s one of my favorite songs, something I carried with me for a long time. It’s a great mood.”

On Krauss’ feature on the upcoming Def Leppard album

Krauss: “That was a lot of fun. I sang 72 tracks of layered vocals, and at the end my throat was like hamburger. It was a lot of work. [Def Leppard was] so nice. They sent two songs and they said, ‘Pick one.’ And [the songs] were both beautiful and they let me do both of them. As a young person, I used to daydream about being the secret harmony singer under the stage singing the part. So it was a fun time.”

On what songs they’re excited to play on tour

Plant: “I think ‘Call It Go’ should really be a rockin’, swinging thing. Despite the gathering years, we might be able to kick it up and create a little bit of a storm.”

Find tour dates here.

Correction: An earlier version of this headline misspelled Alison Krauss’s first name. The story has been updated. 

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.