Gangstagrass Fuses Bluegrass and Hip-Hop During ‘America’s Got Talent’ Audition

Samantha Agate
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Gangstagrass is a group that truly surprised the America’s Got Talent judges with their Season 16 audition. The group members met eleven years ago and are from different areas of the country, but music is the one thing that has united them. The goal of this bluegrass, hip-hop fusion group is to tour the country and spread the message that they are “better together.”


Gangstagrass Brings a New Musical Fusion to ‘America’s Got Talent’

Gangstagrass consists of Dan Whitener on the banjo/vocals, Brian Farrow on the fiddle/vocals, R-SON the Voice of Reason with vocals, Dolio the Sleuth with vocals, and vocalist/guitarist Rench. Rench worked as a country and hip-hop producer, making beats for rappers in New York City. He always wanted to add more country sounds into traditional rap songs, but other artists were hesitant.

After listening to the 1970s recordings of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Rench was inspired to mix classic bluegrass and rapping. Gangstagrass was born and their music was first put on the internet for free. FX Network reached out to Rench to create the theme song for the show Justified. The theme “Long Hard Times to Come,” was nominated for an Emmy in 2010.

“I had a vision of using some quintessentially American music to show people that we have some common ground and there’s no better place for us to come and prove it,” Rench said about auditioning for America’s Got Talent.



For their big America’s Got Talent audition, Gangstagrass performed their original song, “Bound To Ride.” The performance started off with Rench, Brian, and Dan singing a beautiful three-part harmony. The judges all waited to see what was going to happen next. R-SON walked up to the front of the stage and began rapping and Dolio soon joined in. Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara were jamming along to the song from their seats. The judges gave them a standing ovation.

Gangstagrass are true professionals when it comes to performing on stage. They have collaborated on music in the past with T.O.N.E-z, Brandi Hart, and Jen Larson. Their 2020 album, No Time for Enemies landed in the top spot on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. Clearly, they have found tremendous success with their one-of-a-kind sound.

Could America’s Got Talent finally be their claim to fame? Tune in Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC to see their full audition with the judge’s comments.



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