On June 21, the prolific and legendary singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale released his 20th album, 'Reason and Rhyme.' Lauderdale has collaborated with lyricist Robert Hunter for the second time on the bluegrass infused album. The two co-wrote every song on 'Reason and Rhyme,' as they did on Lauderdale's previous album, 'Patchwork River,' which was released last year.

"Robert is one of my favorite writers," Lauderdale tells Taste of Country. "He and Jerry Garcia wrote the bulk of the Grateful Dead catalog. I first became aware of him when I was in high school, and they had two albums out called ‘Workingman’s Dead’ and ‘American Beauty.’ They were real heavily country influenced. I became real interested in that, and I thought they were both great records. Then years later when I was going to do my first record with Ralph Stanley, I contacted Robert Hunter to see if he could write something for that project. We started writing then."

The two genius minds at work made 'Patchwork River' one of the most talked about albums of 2010. Now, 'Reason and Rhyme' is following hot on its heels, as it offers deep musicality, meaning and vision by two of music's greatest lyricists.

"This one's back to total bluegrass," Lauderdale says of 'Reason and Rhyme.' "We started working on this album last August. I had been touring with Elvis Costello, and I decided that I wanted to write a bluegrass album with Robert. So we wrote this record, and I got my friend Randy Kohrs to produce it. Randy has produced my last three solo bluegrass albums."

The album is filled with some of the top-notch bluegrass pickers in Nashville, including Mike Compton (mandolin), Clay Hess (acoustic guitar), Jay Weaver (bass), Tim Crouch (fiddle) and Scott Vestal (banjo), with Ashley Brown singing harmony.

"On my other bluegrass albums and country records, I’ve had various configurations of pickers, but this is the only album I’ve ever done where there was just that group playing on every song," says Lauderdale. "We recorded it in a day, which was really odd. A lot of times when it’s songs that I’m working on, I’m kind of writing while in the studio, but with this record, everything was already written."

"Robert and I wrote it in about 10 days," continues Lauderdale."We had about 18 songs to choose from, and we put 11 of them on the record. Then we recorded the entire album at Randy’s home studio. He just did an outstanding job. This was the quickest record that I’ve ever done from the beginning to the end."

Earlier this month, Lauderdale was privileged to be inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in North Carolina, where the singer-songwriter extraordinaire was born and raised. His induction into the elite group of music icons puts him side-by-side with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, the Carter Family and Earl Scruggs, among others.

"It's a real honor that I will cherish forever," Lauderdale says of his induction. "It means a lot to me to be in the company of other recipients, and I'm very proud to be from that area."

Between tour stops and being recognized for his career achievements, Lauderdale also manages to host the weekly Music City Roots event, which takes place every Wednesday night at 7:00PM CT from the famed Loveless Barn in Nashville.

"I get to host Music City Roots every Wednesday when I'm in town and off the road," notes Lauderdale. "It is really a great experience to get to hear so many talented artists with different styles of music -- bluegrass, country, folk, rock blues, rock 'n' roll -- it's a lot of fun."

He is also the host of his weekly 'The Jim Lauderdale Show' on Nashville's WSM 650 AM radio station on Wednesday afternoons at 2:00PM CT, which can be heard around the world by logging onto the station's website. "WSM is a station I've been listening to for a long time," says Lauderdale. "I still find it hard to believe that I'm able to be a part of WSM because of its rich history. It continues to be a vital station. My show centers around classic country, Americana, bluegrass -- old and new -- and emerging singer-songwriters."

Lauderdale knows well what it takes to be an emerging songwriter, as he is one of the most sought after tunesmiths in Nashville.

"I have been very blessed to have had so many songs recorded by the likes of George Strait ('Twang,' 'I Gotta Get to You'), Patty Loveless ('You Don't Seem to Miss Me'), Gary Allan ('Forever and a Day'), Mark Chesnutt ('Gonna Get a Life') and more," Lauderdale says proudly. "It is something that I still enjoy doing, and it's a great challenge. There are so many great songwriters in Nashville that it's inspiring."

Lauderdale returns to hosting duties this evening (Wednesday, June 22) when he presents the latest Music City Roots show. To listen live online (beginning at 7:00PM CT), click here.

Watch Jim Lauderdale Perform 'Cruel Wind and Rain' Live

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