Soulgrass, a contemporary bluegrass band, mixes in touches of R&B and soul music. Debbie Heavers is lead vocalist for the group and plays guitar and bass. The band also features the musical talents of David Foster, lead and harmony vocals and guitar; Mike Schroeder, fiddle and mandolin; and Billy Ray Lathum, banjo and vocals. Curtis Burch, a founding member of New Grass Revival, also played on the bands debut CD and joins the group for many live shows as a special guest.
Debbie is originally from upstate New York. Starting at the age of 16, she performed throughout the Northeast in various country bands. Her New York music career culminated with a Sunrise Award for her band Cimmeron as the best new country act at the Northeast Country Music Association Awards in 1987. The following year, she moved to Nashville to pursue her singing career.
Because of her interest in the environment, Debbie began working for the Tennessee Nature Conservancy. While volunteering at a conservancy project, she met her husband, fellow musician David Foster. Debbie and David have since performed together as a duo or with various rock and bluegrass bands at local festivals and club venues throughout Southcentral Kentucky. Debbie is also a prolific songwriter who has recorded more than 30 songs over the last five years. She lives in Horse Cave, KY and works as the associate director of the American Cave Conservation Association.
David grew up in Galax, VA, the nations celebrated home of old-time mountain fiddle music. His own love of music was instilled by his father, a barbershop quartet singer who toured the Chautauqua tent shows of the Midwest during the 1920s.
Though David studied piano and acquired a degree in music theory from Emory and Henry College, his true musical love was for the traditional tunes he grew up playing at the Galax Old-Time Fiddlers Convention. He combines that love with his love of cave exploration by writing cave ballads. Dave is the director of the American Cave Conservation Association and has written for Readers Digest, Southern Living, and numerous other publications.
Mike is an eclectic mandolin and fiddle player from Louisville. His influences range from old-time and traditional bluegrass to Celtic and classical music. In 1986, he was a Grammy nominee with the Buzzard Rock String Band for their June Appal recording Ive Got the Blues for My Old Kentucky Home.
A past president of the Classical Mandolin Society of America, Mike founded the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra. He has performed with the Louisville Orchestra and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. His playing can be heard on Mando Magnificat, a PBS recording which was part of the Lonesome Pine series at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. And he has performed and recorded with the popular Louisville bands the Galoots and Hog Operation.
Billy Ray was born in a log cabin in Wild Cat Corner, AR and grew up in a time when there was no electricity in his house. From the first moment he heard Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, and Cedric Rainwater on a battery-operated radio that his father brought home, something inside him just clicked, he says. He knew right then that he had the music in him.
In 1958, Billy Ray joined a group called the Three Little Country Boys. The name was eventually changed to the Kentucky Colonels when the bands first album was released. The Colonels performed together until 1966. In 1969 and 1970, Billy Ray played guitar with Dillard and the Expedition. Then in 1971 he became a member of the original Country Gazette. In 1980, he toured with the Roger Miller Band. And in 1995 and 1997 he was a part of the Laurel Canyon Ramblers. Billy Ray has also performed on numerous recordings, including albums by Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Fabian, Billy Preston, and Billy Joel.