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Mary Kaye - In The News


Over the years I have purchased a number of your CDs. I firmly believe that you are the most talented of the Western music lyricists on the scene today.  Your lyrics cover a wide range of subject matter—not just romance, like many song writers—and they are often insightful and thought-provoking.  The lyrics combined with a vocal range that spans from powerful to poignant bolstered by unique and complex harmonies makes your music very special indeed.  You are a treasure!

                                                                                                    - Bob Harris (Aurora, OH)



Western Horseman by Jennifer Denison:

December 2018,

A Cowboy Christmas

Mary Kaye

Bring the spirit of Christmas into your heart and home with a collection of cowboy-style Christmas songs from Mary Kaye

Award-winning Western singer-songwriter Mary Kaye performs cowboy Christmas concerts each December in Utah and Nevada. If you can’t make one of her shows, however, you can listen to the magic of her music in your home, barn or vehicle on the CD, A Cowboy Christmas.

Released as a five-song EP in 2013, and in 2016 with an additional eight songs, this CD has quickly become a holiday classic for fans of cowboy music. Mary Kaye wrote the majority of the 13 tracks, and she sings them with reverence and raw emotion. The first track, Christmas for Cowboys, was written by S. Weisberg and recorded by John Denver in 1975. The tune takes listeners on a cattle drive in the West where the greatest gifts the cowboys receive are “the sky and wide open range.”

Rooted in faith, family and the West, Mary Kaye sings about giving and sharing, small town celebrations, the beauty of an old barn, Santa’s roundup, winter weather and the birth of Jesus Christ. Most of the songs have simple instrumentals, which allow Mary Kaye’s beaming voice to shine. This is most apparent in her touching rendition of “O Holy Night.” She also sings a lively version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with fellow cowboy singer R.W. Hampton. One of the most special songs on the CD, however, is track 11, “I Love Christmas/Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“I wrote ‘I Love Christmas’ to weave through ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ because I love this kind of arrangement and it gives me a chance to sing with my daughters,” she writes in the liner notes.

A blend of traditional and fresh songs with Western flair, the CD is sure to put listeners of all ages in the Christmas spirit.



"Your music is loved in Outback Australia. I use music as a tool towards calmness in this hell that we are experiencing (drought). Your voice is angelic and your words true. Different hemisphere, different country but still means the same."

                                                                                - Wesley Herring



2018 Wrangler Award - Traditional Western Album - Take Me Back to Texas      - The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

2017 Will Rodgers Award - Western Song of the Year - "Grit, Grace and Balin' Twine" - Academy of Western Artists
2016 Wrangler Award - Outstanding Original Western Composition - "Ride A Wide Circle" - The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

2016 Top Radio Air Play for Western Music and Artists:
  • 100 Most Played Western Albums - #2 Ride A Wide Circle
  • 100 Most Heard Contemporary Western Artists - #2 Mary Kaye
  • 100 Most Heard Artists on Western Music Programs - #3 Mary Kaye
(by reporting DJ’s to The Western Way  magazine)

"Got my Mary Kaye CDs today!!! I've never been so glad to drive the trip to the mailbox!!! I think a gal that can sing like that, have 10 kids, run a ranch, and wrangle Brad oughta have her own centerfold!!!"

- JD Vernon, working cowboy, Texas

by Paul Riley

Country Music People Magazine
October 2015
page 47
Ride A Wide Circle
5 Stars
The Night Herding Song / Ride A Wide Circle[Spoken] / Ride A Wide Circle / Grit, Grace and Balin’ Twine / Leavin’ Cheyenne / Buckskin Joe / Women And Horses / Que Vaquero / The Wild Of The West/ Big Enough / The Town That Raised Me / Horse Lover / Love’s Last Stand / A Cowboy’s Soul / Girl Meets West / Song Of Wyoming
Producers: Mary Kaye and Brad Knaphus
Don’t Fence Me In Records
Western singer Mary Kaye returns with a special disc, her fourth album, following on from the underrated The Dawn And The Dusk. The press release for the new CD speaks of the singer’s “originality and authenticity” and both are important in understanding this new collection of songs. Most of the tracks, which celebrate the cowboy life, are originals and they blend very well with the few old songs.
The powerful opening track, The Night Herding Song, dates back to 1909, and is a song that was sung to cattle. These days it’s fairly certain that cows all over America will love Mary Kaye’s a cappella version. After a spoken intro the title track begins with a simple acoustic guitar and a strong vocal, towards the end of the track Mary Kaye segues into the classic Will The Circle Be Unbroken. This works beautifully as the two elements blend together. Mary Kaye’s vocals on the CD are superb, with real passion dripping into this wonderful collection of songs, which contains no duds.
The CD’s best song is also the longest, kicking in at over five minutes, Women And Horses. Written by Dale Page - a man who uses words to great effect – with Mary Kaye composing the music, the song has a simple acoustic guitar/fiddle arrangement. Mary Kaye knows the words she is singing are special. The lyrics for all the songs come in a booklet with the album and they can be enjoyed with or without listening to the music.
Other songs of note include the Mexican influenced Que Vaquero, the Western bounce of Grit, Grace And Balin’ Twine and the blues influenced Buckskin Joe. The final song, the gentle ballad Song Of Wyoming, brings the disc to a beautiful warm ending.
Mary Kaye’s CD is one of those perfect albums. Everything comes together: the songs, the superb vocals, backing musicians on top form, very good production and best of all Mary Kaye’s unique feel for her music, which is now becoming more important with each release. Mary Kaye’s songs about cowboys, horses, women and family breathe new life into Western music. With Ride A Wide Circle Mary Kaye’s unique journey continues, it seems almost certain that the new album will be Mary Kaye’s best seller, it certainly deserves to be.

by Bob Everhart
Country Music News International Magazine

February 15, 2016

Ride A Wide Circle
The Night Herding Song - Ride A Wide Circle (spoken) - Ride A Wide Circle - Grit Grace and Balin' Twine - Leavin' Cheyenne - Buckskin Joe - Women and Horses - Que Vaquero - The Wild of the West - Big Enough - The Town That Raised Me - Horse Lover - Love's Last Stand - A Cowboy's Soul - Girl Meets West - Song of Wyoming
Mary Kaye is an exceptional person.  She has been awarded just about everything that can be awarded to her, and here's an old country-boy listening to one of the very best 'western' singers I've ever heard.  How does she do this? First we strip off all the veneer of 'honor' which she has a ton of, deservedly so.  Then we listen to what she has to say about what 'western' really means to her.  Is it authentic?  Indeed it is. Then we reduce the 16 tracks, to 14 of which she wrote.  Can she write?  Indeed she can.  Then we listen to the honesty of her voice.  Is it there?  Indeed it is. Then finally we listen to those few notes on the musical scale that turns 'regular' into 'incredible.'  Can she do that.  Indeed she can.

I've never heard a western artist begin an album without instrumentation. That puts Mary Kaye in an interesting position right off the bat, or first out of the chute, as she is inclined to say.  She doesn't sound like anyone else.  She's not imitating anyone.  Mary Kaye is Mary Kaye, a name you are not likely to forget if you only hear one of her songs.  Listening to her doing 16 of equally fantastically gifted, talented, honest, versatile, and completely entertaining, is a special treat. Mary Kaye has already heard false praise in her career.  Someone as devoted as she is to her music would not be exempt from that.  She also knows if she can impress the Western Music Association, she can also impress a farmer's son who listens with an ear developed working for the Smithsonian Institution.  Is their accuracy, truth, devotion, in her works?  Indeed there are. It's very difficult for me to pick out any 'one' song to concentrate on.  That's not the way Mary Kaye wants you to hear her works.  She wants you to hear all of it.

The stories she tells, "whiskey and tobacco and bitter black coffee," how does she know about that?  "Cause every girl knows you are what you eat."  Yes, she knows that, she's a girl.  "I thank Heaven above for puttin' horses in my heart, cause horses keep me livin' the way I like."  How does she know this?  The answer is simple; Mary Kaye is a 'real' artist, one willing to put her soul on the line, willing to take whatever happens.  That's very unlike what we hear called 'country music' today.  It is so totally false; it could never come close to the honesty of an artist like Mary Kaye.  It's also the same reason we'll probably not hear Mary Kaye on the radio in Iowa.  But that doesn't matter.  She has some incredible gifted works already recorded, [five] albums since 2008.

She used a lot of different musicians on this particular project, and I suspect Mary could be a very 'determined' artist to make sure it sounds like the 'sound' she hears in her own head.  Salt Lake City, where she makes her home nearby, must already find her one of the most precious artists they could ever listen to.  2016 has already been an interesting 'music listening' experience for me, and I would certainly recommend to those many fans in Europe who read my column there, try to get a copy of Mary Kaye somehow.  I promise you will not be disappointed.  Now, I have to send this CD along to the Rural Roots Music Commission for their listening pleasure, and potential CD of the Year.  Oh, I know about that, they'll all want to be in the front row if she's available to accept.

by Jennifer Denison
Western Horseman Magazine
December 2015
page 60

Ride A Wide Circle

Fans of Western singer Mary Kaye followed the recording of her fourth album, Ride A Wide Circle, on social media, eagerly waiting to hear the results. Touted as her "masterwork," the CD features 16 solid tracks that cover a lot of territory and keep listeners hooked for the entire ride.

In her pure, compelling voice, Mary Kaye sings of ranch life, horses, outlaws and heroes, and meaningful places in the West. The first track is a powerful a cappella version of the traditional tune, "The Night Herding Song." The title track, which begins with a spoken introduction and ends with a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," is a fitting tribute to those who live off the land. Though it's hard to choose a favorite, "Woman and Horses," written by Dale Page, is a contender as is "Que Vaquero," a nod to the vaquero and Mary Kaye's Mexican heritage. The singer is joined by her equally talented daughter, Millie, in "The Town that Raised Me."

The CD, which comes with a booklet of lyrics, is available for $17 at

by Rick Huff
Western Music Critic
September 2015

Here we have arguably the strongest release yet from the award-winning Mary Kaye. For those unaware (somehow), Mary Kaye’s voice ranges from expressively plaintive to all-out gut powerful. You will find that nobody from our genre…male or female…handles romping, bluesy attitude material any better than this lady.

Know that everything about the CD is top notch, but it’s nice to see “Buckskin Joe” rescued from an earlier album. Other picks include her title track, the bilingual “Que Vaquero”; “The Wild Of The West” (a showpiece of contemporary Western Music concepting); “Big Enough”; the swing novelty “Horse Lover”; “A Cowboy’s Soul”; and the swinging, quasi-autobiographical “Girl Meets West."

There are also some Western classics covered, and they include the a cappella opener (Harry Stephens’ 1909 “Night Herding Song”),  “Leavin’ Cheyenne,” and Kent Lewis’ beautiful “Song Of Wyoming.” Highly recommended. Sixteen tracks total.

Ranch & Reata Magazine
by Rod Miller
Aug/Sept 2015


Mary Kaye fills the western air with music.

There are singers and songwriters who toil and struggle for years to get noticed. Then there's Mary Kaye.

Less than 10 years after getting talked into stepping onto the stage and crooning a cowboy tune, Mary Kaye has earned the kind of recognition that could make any western entertainer envious: Western Music Association Crescendo Award Winner and Female Vocalist of the Year in 2010; 2011 Female Performer of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists; WMA Song of the Year, 2012; 2013 WMA Female Performer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year; 2013 Spur Award for Best Western Song from Western Writers of America…. And that's just the highlights.

Quite a list of accomplishments for a woman who once asked her husband, "Who'd want to hear me sing?" when he encouraged her to go after music in a serious way. That husband, Utah cowboy Brad Knaphus, continues to inspire his wife and has taken on the responsibilities of manager and promoter. "When people ask me what my husband does," the singer says, "I tell them he sells Mary Kaye."


Mary Kaye Top of Charts on AirplayDirect Again

"I was checking out AirPlay Direct to see who's charting and I decided to check out Mary Kaye's website. I listened to some of her music and it's excellent; she has a lovely voice and her sound is wonderfully rich, rootsy, and deeply evocative."
Peter Hay
Twin Vision
June 2015

APD Americana/AAA Top 50 Albums Charts:
  • June 22, 2015, #1 for the week
  • June 2015, #3
  • July 2015, #4
  • August 2015, #7

Mary Kaye Opens for Baxter Black in Elko

The Western Folk Life Center called  informing us that Baxter Black had requested Mary Kaye open for him at the 31st National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV; the last time Baxter would perform there. It was the year of the Vaquero of Baja California Sur. Being that Mary Kaye has Mexican roots, her mother was born there and lived at one time in Baja, she chose to perform her original song, "Jealous of the Moon" in tribute to those roots. Ernie Martinez accompanied Mary Kaye on Spanish guitar which made it even better. It seemed as if the stars had aligned at that very moment making for a magical performance. Thank you Baxter Black for the opportunity!

Review: The Dawn and The Dusk - Big Sky Journal
by Matthew P. Mayo  
September 2013

The Dawn and The Dusk (Don’t Fence Me In Records; $17) by multiple-award-winning Western singer Mary Kaye Knaphus, is a bold new musical outing by one of the strongest singers working today. It’s solid in its Western tradition roots, yet refreshing because of Knaphus’s rich, varied voice with a wide range that allows her to sound sultry one moment and angelic the next. From the Latin flair of “Jealous of the Moon,” to the traditional whoop-up of “Git Along Little Dogies,” and a whole lot of excellent terrain in between, The Dawn and The Dusk is unflinching, heartfelt and wholly entertaining. The only way anyone will get the full measure of this talented Western woman’s abilities is to give the disc a spin for themselves. But be warned, one listen won’t be enough …

Western Music Association 2014 Nominations

Mary Kaye has been nominated as the 2014 Entertainer of the Year and 2014 Female Performer of the Year by the Western Music Association. She is truly humbled and honored to be in such great company as Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, Bill Barwick, and Juni Fisher. Thank You WMA!

American Cowboy: Top 20 Cowboy Songs in the Past 20 Years

"We gave cowboy music radio host Charley Engel the daunting task of choosing the Top 20 core cowboy songs of the last 20 years, and he didn't disappoint. Here they are!

by Charley Engel, Host of Calling All Cowboys Radio & The Flying SL Ranch Radio Show
Creating a Top 20 list was a task for Solomon himself. To do so, I had to set some exacting criteria:
1) Only one listing per artist
2) The song had to be written or co-written by the artist (with a few exceptions)
3) The track had to be released by that artist for the first time during that year.

Hopefully, you will remember some old favorites and discover a few new gems.
Note: To hear a special show featuring these songs, log on to Engel's show on The Flying SL Ranch Radioat
"Jealous Of The Moon"— Mary Kaye
(The Dawn And The Dusk)
A. How does a mother of 10 still look so gorgeous? B. Where’d she get pipes like that? Be prepared to be blown away. ¡Muy bueno!"

Other notable names on the list include Don Edwards, Joni Harms, Michael Martin Murphey, Riders In The Sky, Tom Russell, and Dave Stamey.
To read entire article go to,

Songwriter Mary Kaye Spins Colorful Tales in Song
Linda East Brady, Standard Examiner, Ogden, UT, May 9, 2014, p. 3 (Cover Article)

Western singer Mary Kaye Knaphus, who goes professionally by Mary Kaye, is a woman of many accomplishments. To start with, she and her  husband Brad, whose western roots go back six generations, have raised 10 children together, who now range in age from 8 to 26. The family homestead, and all those kids, would for many women have been overwhelming and all-consuming. Not Knaphus. About 8 years ago, after her last baby came along, she started playing guitar. It gave her a place to go that was hers alone to express herself. She was writing original music before she fully learned to play. Now her music business is also part of the family’s business, with her husband acting as her manager.

“We like to tease Brad that he is a salesman for Mary Kaye — which he is, of course. I don’t make him wear pink, though,” said Knaphus, calling from home in Southern Utah. Knaphus last played Ogden in a duet with Richard Lee Cody in 2010. She returns, as the reigning Western Music Association’s Female Performer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year (2013), to perform at Twitchell’s House Concert in Ogden on Saturday, May 10th.

Captivate a Crowd

Knaphus brings a caboodle of a tool kit with her when she takes the stage. She has a beautiful contralto voice that partners splendidly with the colorful tales she spins in song. She is also certainly a pleasure to watch as she performs, with a warm stage presence and a timeless beauty that she accents with a bolero hat and a touch of vaquero flair. These attributes certainly help her connect with an audience, no matter the size of the room. But what really has those in the know talking is the fact that, as a songsmith, Knaphus tackles both historical and contemporary Western stories — no mean feat, as Western Horseman magazine noted: “Some Western singers and musicians are all about preserving traditional cowboy songs. Others strive to write and sing songs about contemporary cowboy life ... Mary Kaye does both well, and with an authenticity that appeals to not only purists, but also those seeking something fresh.”

Knaphus had already recorded one album, and had started to play at events in Southern Utah, when Western singer Richard Lee Cody happened upon her singing and approached her about possibly partnering. Eventually they did, making 2010’s “Way Out West.” That album, and the ensuing shows, made the twosome the most nominated act at the Western Music Association awards that year. Soon after that project, Knaphus and Cody went their separate ways. “That was fun, but I found I really wanted to work solo,” said Knaphus. “For one thing, touring is a bit harder in a duet, coordinating schedules and all of that.”

She went on to be honored as the 2010 Female Vocalist of the Year by the Western Music Association, with a 2011 Will Rogers Award from The Academy of Western Artists’ for Best Western Female Performer, and received a Spur Award from the Western Writer’s of America for her song about Butch Cassidy, “Any Name Will Do.” She also was recognized in 2012, along with cowboy poet Les Buffham, for their song, “No Wilder Place,” and drew a nod in 2013 from True West Magazine as Best Solo Musician. “I can’t really thank these organizations enough for how they have helped me,” she said. “Being an unknown, to have that credibility under my belt, was such a boost. It gave me a very solid calling card to get into venues and festivals and get heard.”

Writing the Road

Her most recent album “The Dawn and the Dusk,” her forth solo record, arrived almost exactly one year ago. Recorded with sound engineer Mark Stephensen, whose Clearfield-based MAS Studio has earned a reputation for capturing that essential Western sound, she also tapped Utah musicians Rich Dixon, Michael Dowdle and Ryan Shupe for the project. Storied Texas guitarist Rich O’Brien and Texas singing cowgirl “Mustang” Mikki Daniel also added their dash to the album in Fort Worth’s Allegro Sound Lab studio. Knaphus said that she feels this is her most distinctive album to date. 

“This CD was very much affected by all the traveling I do now. It’s more about people I meet and stories I hear. It’s in the songs. ‘Take Me Back to Texas’ — well, it’s about Texas, obviously! It is inspired by going back and getting in touch with my roots and is a really upbeat swing song.

“I was born in Texas, but it was music that took me back there, but I would have never have done that, with 10 children, if I were not doing my music,” she added.

Other songs were inspired by people she met.

“Songs like ‘Wyoming Woman, Montana Man,’ that was inspired by a Wyoming cowgirl I met. My goal was for you to really feel the West, the distances, the people, when you listen to this.”

When Knaphus began writing, she said she does as most novices do, and reached for her own experiences, or wrote about historical people and events she could study. But her new lives and travels have opened a world of stories to her. “The new CD, in comparison to my previous records, is born of real life experiences in today’s West,” she said. “There are so many stories there. Look at the situation we just had with the Nevada rancher standing up to the Feds. I am certainly not agreeing with him — but, that is a recent example of a powerful story that brought attention to the cowboy culture.”

Knaphus believes the West’s past shaped our country’s past, and continues to shape its present.

“That culture is still a huge part of the United States, though people who don’t live it out here may not realize it,” she said. “Cowboy culture actually represents to the entire world American freedom and independence. It is amazing to chronicle that experience, and perhaps pass it on through music to doctors and lawyers and other people who are not necessarily into ranching, or know about that life.

“I think the message carries over that not only is that life still out there, but it in fact puts that hamburger on your plate. This is the place where our food comes from. It is a vital part of who we are.”

Review: The Dawn and the Dusk - Western Horseman
by Jennifer Denison
February 2014, pg.56

"The fourth solo release from Utah singer-songwriter Mary Kaye features 11 original songs, plus a fresh, lively arrangement of traditional tune “Git Along Little Doggies.” This album showcases the performer’s diversity as a singer, songwriter, and musician. Track one, “The Prairie Preacher,” is a haunting Old West gospel story song about redemption in a small town. The other tracks are a mix of upbeat two-stepping songs, swing songs, and ballads of love and loss. Latin accompaniment enhances Mary Kaye’s voice and Spanish lyrics in track six, “Jealous of the Moon.” In November, the mother of 10 was named the Western Music Association’s Female Performer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year, adding to a long list of honors in the traditional western music genre."

100 Most Played Western Artists of 2013
(by reporting DJ’s to The Western Way magazine)

1. Sons of the Pioneers
2. Gene Autry
3. Riders in the Sky
4. R.W. Hampton
5. Mary Kaye

100 Most Played Contemporary Western Artists in 2013
(by reporting DJ’s to The Western Way Magazine)

1. Riders in the Sky
2. R.W. Hampton
3. Mary Kaye
4. Don Edwards

100 Most Played From Western Albums of 2013
(by reporting DJ’s to The Western Way magazine)          

3. Mary Kaye – The Dawn and The Dusk  (Release Date: April 30th, 2013)

Desiree Vacher Esplin
February 5, 2014, Monticello, Utah
"I love all your CDs, however my favorites are Clean Outta Luck and No Wilder Place. I must say your voice, song lyrics, and the passion you put into your music touches my heart and mind in a way that no other music has done in years. I usually workout in complete silence as most music these days hurts my ears and my brain. On the way to school the other day I told my 15 year old son that you were better than Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood.  He is a big Carrie Underwood fan and said, "Careful what you say about Carrie mom." I thought he was going to stop the car and throw me out. Thank you for your beautiful music. Live out every moment, they are all cherished!"

Mary Kaye's 2013 Press Release
Mary Kaye started the year with recognition as the 2013 Best Solo Performer by True West Magazine. In July she received a Spur Award for best western song from the Western Writers of America for her Butch Cassidy tune, “Any Name Will Do.” In the Fall recognition found her again receiving five Western Music Association nominations including Entertainer of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Female Performer of the Year, Western Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. In November, in Albuquerque, NM, Mary Kaye became the WMA's 2013 Female Performer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.
On April 30th she released her latest CD, The Dawn and The Dusk, receiving excellent reviews in American Cowboy, Maverick, and The Western Way, as well as 4 ½ stars from the UK’s County Music People magazine. The album is currently #1 on the western music charts. Since 2008 she has recorded three solo western albums, a duet western album, a solo Americana album, and a CD of classic country songs. On these various projects 50 of the songs are her own.
The final numbers for the year include over 100 performances in 15 Western states and Canada, traveling over 45,000 miles, and moving approximately 3,000 CDs.


Western Music Charts - 4th Quarter 2013:

#2 Western Album: The Dawn and The Dusk
#2 Western Song: "Wyoming Woman, Montana Man" - The Dawn and The Dusk

(The Western Way, pg 43)

Western Music Charts - 3rd Quarter 2013:

#1 Western Album: The Dawn and The Dusk
#2 Western Song: "Take Me Back to Texas" - The Dawn and The Dusk
#2 Western Song: "Git Along Little Dogies" - The Dawn and The Dusk

(The Western Way, pg 51)

Hotdisc Top 40

The fifth song on Mary Kaye's A Cowboy Christmas EP, "Come Gather Round the Angel Tree," was released for the 2013 Christmas season in the United Kingdom on Hotdisc. It reached #19 on the Hotdisc charts with no radio air play promotion.

Review: The Dawn and The Dusk - Maverick: The UK's Leading Independent Music Magazine
by Alan Cacket, Editor

3 1/2 Stars

Mary Kaye – THE DAWN AND THE DUSK (Don’t Fence Me In Records MK-005)  Texas born Mary Crawford Knaphus (aka Mary Kaye) now lives in Utah and her music is very much western-styled. On this latest album of self-penned songs she takes the listener through a myriad of experiences, mainly connected with the western life-style, as in "Arizona In Her Eyes," a beautiful love story and the selfexplanatory "Take Me Back To Texas" swing number. She’s accompanied by skilled musicians with plenty of great fiddle, acoustic guitar, Dobro, banjo, piano and steel guitar. There’s just one outside song, the cowboy oldie "Git Along Little Doggies" which is quite delightful.

(January/February 2014, Page 99)

#1 on AirplayDirect Nov. 14th, 19th, and 20th, 2013

This morning the Chairman/CEO of AirplayDirect, Robert Weingartz, called to say that Mary Kaye is #1 on the APD Top 50 Global Radio Indicator Charts for song down loads for radio airplay world wide. Very cool! If you work in radio AirplayDirect is a great way for DJs to access music. Thank you Robert, Airplay Direct, and all the DJs who downloaded Mary Kaye's songs!

Review: The Real Thing by Mary Kaye
by Christian Kim, BREATHEcast News Reporter
Oct 12, 2013 11:46 AM EDT

Mary Kaye is a major find.  While many artists are experts in a single genre or sound, the music of Mary Kaye is all encompassing.  She possesses a voice that defies categorization: in her tender moments her mountain-pure unalloyed vibrato grips us with the purity of Dolly Parton and the vulnerability of a Rhonda Vincent.  Yet, when she chooses to growl a bluesy chesty note she has the gravitas of a Wynonna Judd.  Musically, "The Real Thing" is a country/folk record that encapsulates a plethora of issues including love, family, God and the roller coaster of living. Though "The Real Thing" was first released in 2008 as an 8 song EP, upon the requests of fans and friends, we are finally blessed with a 13 track (all penned by Mary Kaye) album of the same titular.  Yet, for those of us unfamiliar with Mary Kaye, a word of introduction is appropriate.  Though Mary Kaye was born and raised in Texas, after she had met her husband Brad, a sixth generational cowboy, they rode off and settled in Utah.  Despite having 10 (yes 10!) children, Mary Kaye still has time to sing and record.  With her music she has not only wowed her fans but critics such as True West Magazine, Western Music Association, Western Horseman among many others have been giving her the two thumbs up.

"The Real Thing" kicks off with the title track.  It is no coincidence that Mary Kaye name drops George Gershwin in the song's lyrics.  Like the paeans of this American song writing genius, "The Real Thing" sounds like one of those unforgettable love theme from one of those classic movies.  The lilting jazz shuffles, the swooning sentimentality of the arrangements and Mary Kaye's coy but affectionate delivery makes this one of the greatest modern standards to be. In a culture where young women are constantly being bombarded with sex-crazed and promiscuous messages, it's easy to lose God's perspective as to what a girl needs to look for in a man.  "I See a Good Man," needs to be on the iTunes of all single women, as Mary Kaye in her sisterly sincerity details the qualities of what to look out for in a potential mate in a way that is wholesome and Godly.  Mary Kaye does get sultry explosive with some Wynonna-Judd bluesy growl on the "My Favourite Fire" that also boasts a killer guitar bridge.

Karyn White may have a hit song named "Superwoman" in the 90s, but it is Mary Kaye who paints for us with everyday stories what she looks like in reality.  "Worth Waiting for" is Mary Kaye's tribute to the "superwomen" in her life.  Pearl stringing stories of various women who triumph over their painful trials by waiting upon God, Mary Kaye truly shows us what powerful Godly women actually looks like. And having 10 kids nobody is better equipped to speak on the topic of motherhood than Mary Kaye herself.  "A Mother's Prayer" finds Mary Kaye sharing with us some soul-searching priorities every parent needs to treasure if we want to raise God-fearing children.  More songs on home abound with the affectionate country romper "Home Sweet Home." You could definitely hear shades of a down home Dolly Parton as Mary Kaye sings with the same tenderness "Better as a Butterfly," a song she wrote for her oldest daughter.

Often in times of suffering we try to desperately look for traces of God.  Mary Kaye in her touching "God is in the Roses" re-positions our glasses to enable us to see that God is not only present in the roses but also in the thorns; He is in the silence as well as in the storm.  "The Real Thing" is more than just the title of this album, the issues that Mary Kaye raises through her songs are penetrating, relevant and they often hit us right at the heart.  But more importantly she also interweaves a Godly perspective into each of these issues that we could all profit from.

© 2013 BREATHEcast Christian music. All rights reserved.

Coyote Creek Features Two Top Entertainers and a Packed House
by William C. Thomas

Barry Ward and Mary Kaye headlined the last Coyote Creek Concert of the 2013 season, and both proved why they were up for multiple nominations, including "2013 Entertainer of the Year" to a packed house at Casey Jones Pavilion Saturday night, September 28, 2013.

The evening began with Mary Kaye, whose powerfully distinctive voice illustrated her lyrics of being a mother and a wife on a wonderful piece about Annie Ellis, whose daughter, Joy, succumbed to fever. She now has a large white headstone in the Goldfield, NV cemetery; "If you stake a claim for heartache, that's what you'll find; Annie staked a claim for Joy," Kaye sang, evoking all the images of risk and the claim of the heart against the dust and sun of Nevada in the early 20th Century.

A number of Kaye's pieces, dealing with cowboys and the wild west, were distinctively sung: "When a boy never outgrows his boots and his hat; Mommas could do worse than having their babies grow up to be cowboys;" and  "He's gone like summer wages/Like turning of the pages/Doesn't matter where he's headed now,/He's already gone," about a cowboy going from ranch to ranch; coupled with "Any Name Will Do," about outlaws using names their mamas never gave them, which won a Western Writers of America award.

The song of the year nomination, "Wyoming Woman; Montana Man," she confessed, was an afterthought on her latest album. "I keep being reminded of what effect my music has on people," she said, "And look where it is now." The song, about a woman hitchhiker who is picked up by a Montana cowboy, has lyrics that go beyond a simple encounter that turns to romance. "He was the perfect man to live up to the perfect plan," and "He was the answer to the question she never knew she had" betoken a great deal more than relationships but questions of belief and one's place in the universe, which Kaye's playing, with its faint suggestion of reverb, seemed to enforce.

Kaye also belted out "Get Along, Little Dogies," with a yodel that revealed some well-honed skills, and sang "Streets of Laredo" almost like a transcendence of the spirit: this, clearly, is one talented and able singer/songwriter.

(, October 1, 2013)

Marie Crichton’s BBC Radio Broadcast "Country Show"

“She is absolutely wonderful. Her name is Mary Kaye and I think [The Dawn and The Dusk] is one of the best I’ve heard for a long, long time. It really is a stunning album. [This song is] really beautiful, it’s called ‘Solid Gone,’ my pick of the evening.”

(Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at 1.20 min.)

David Markham of Liverpool, England Wrote about The Real Thing:

"I love every second of the The Real Thing album. It should be on the charts. These are the best out or all her songs. It's pure country; lovely sung, lovely voice, lovely picking; in fact the whole album is gold. I bet if this album had a review it would hit the headlines. With this album I could just leave it on all night and never stop playing it. This is the album that should have gone into Country Music People, not the other; this one will be a major hit for Mary."

(September 5th, 2013)

Review: The Dawn and the Dusk
- Country Music People Magazine
by Paul Riley

4 ½ Stars

The Prairie Preacher / Solid Gone / Wyoming Woman, Montana Man / Arizona in Her Eyes / Cooley Ranch Road / Jealous of the Moon / Take Me Back to Texas / Git Along Little Dogies / My World / The Golden Thread / Chasin' Down the Sun / The Dawn and The Dusk

Producers: Mary Kaye and Brad Knaphus
Don’t Fence Me In Records

"With America now divided by politics, race and Obamacare, perhaps it’s time to think about family, friends and the God-fearing men and women of yesteryear. Let’s listen to some Western music with talented singer/songwriter Mary Kaye. Western music has its roots in folk music from the UK, with songs of old cowboy life at the fore. These days we don’t have enough Western singers, so the ones we do have we need to treasure. Mary Kaye is one of the most talented Western singers, on her new CD, there are 12 songs, she penned 11 of them. With each song Mary Kaye’s powerful voice is a highlight.

A banjo introduces us to 'The Prairie Preacher,' a dark parable partly based on true stories. Mary Kaye’s passionate vocal will keep listeners interested in this song despite its running time of over five minutes. 'Solid Gone' also breaks five minutes, it’s a ballad based on the life of a young Arizona cowboy. Mary Kaye sings this song, as though every word is important to her. As a child I turned on the radio, and heard a song called, 'Git Along Little Dogies,' a traditional song, the version I heard was by Roy Rogers, but the song has been sung since by people as diverse as Holly Golightly and Alvin And The Chipmunks! Mary Kaye’s version stays close to the early ones.

All songs on Mary Kaye’s CD are good, but two need a special mention, the wonderful 'My World,' a glimpse into the singer's rural life, captures the spirit of the old West, and the title song, which closes the disc. 'The Dawn and The Dusk' is a very well written song about life and death. Towards the end of the song it reaches the power of a hymn and is a great way to end a CD.

Very few singers are still embracing the ways of America’s old West, however, singers like Mary Kaye are not ready to let go, and from the old ways comes some wonderful, engaging new music. If any of the old cowboys returned, Mary Kaye’s new disc would form a perfect soundtrack, which they would almost certainly love."

(September 2013, Page 52, Great Britain)

Western Music Association on August 8th, 2013:

"Congratulations! The Dawn & The Dusk has been nominated for the 2013 WMA Western Album of the Year, 'Wyoming Woman-Montana Man' has been nominated as Song of the Year and [Mary Kaye] has been nominated for Female Performer, Songwriter, and Entertainer of the Year."

Marvin O'Dell of the Around the Campfire radio show:

"The absolutely enchanting voice of Mary Kaye is the finest gift given Western music in a long time. Her singing and songwriting bring the entire genre up another notch."


Review: The Dawn and The Dusk -
The Western Way
by Rick Huff

"With the deep dimensions of her voice Mary Kaye Knaphus could sing a lunch menu and make us buy in! She offers considerably better material than that in her latest release.

The artists she’s team roped into this one make it exemplary. The award winning youngster Mustang Mikki and Rich O’Brien join Mary Kaye on 'Wyoming Woman, Montana Man'; Belinda Gail 'Gits Along (with some) Little Dogies' on a fresh spin of that classic; and Ryan Shupe adds fiddle and mandolin excellence to 'Cooley Ranch Road' (love the line 'the county line is the only line to cross'). Michael Dowdle’s Spanish guitar haunts 'Jealous Of The Moon' enhancing the song’s own haunting poetry and then there’s Dave Alexander & his Big Texas Swing Band on 'Take Me Back To Texas.'

If we haven’t given you enough to hook you, trust me. There’s plenty more!"

(Summer 2013, p. 43)

Western Fictioneers:

"... just spent the better part of a week in Las Vegas at the WWA [Western Writer's of America] conference.... When it was just about all over but the shouting, I went to a panel of western songwriting.... That’s when I fell in love with a woman named Mary Kaye. I’ll get to the particulars on this wonderful songstress in a moment, but let me just say that she has great vocal range, the right kind of heart for western music, and a presentation that wows any audience....

Now, Mary Kaye won a Spur for her 2013 song, “Any Name Will Do.” It’s about Robert Leroy Parker, better known to some as Butch Cassidy.... Here’s something else you will not believe. Mary Kaye’s into her 27th year of a happy marriage, and she has 10 (count them...) children. My hat is off to this woman, a pillar of strength, as a western woman should be."

(Troy D. Smith, Western Fictioneers Blog, 07/02/2013)

True West Magazine:

How a mother of 10 can find time to write beautiful, poignant Western songs is quite a mystery. But Mary Kaye has entered the echelon of great songwriters with her latest album, No Wilder Place. She holds her own among the 'sassy' singers, as well as Janis Joplin, Wanda Jackson, Kelly Willis and the rest. We'd love to hear her Butch Cassidy ballad in a Western film!

(True West, January 2013, p. 24)

The awards keep piling up for Mary Kaye, and deservedly so. The former Western Music Association 'Female Vocalist of the Year' was up for three more WMA awards thanks to her new terrific 2012 album No Wilder Place. The title track definitely deserved its WMA nomination for "Song of the Year," but we implore you to listen to her take on the cowboy classic "Streets of Laredo."

(January 2013, p. 45)

Review: No Wilder Place
- Western Horseman
by Jennifer Denison

Some Western singers and musicians are all about preserving traditional cowboy songs. Others strive to write and sing songs about contemporary cowboy life. Utah singer-songwriter Mary Kaye Knaphus, whose stage name is simply Mary Kaye, does both well, and with an authenticity that appeals to not only purists, but also those seeking something fresh.

Her latest CD, titled No Wilder Place, contains 12 original songs either writen or co-written by Mary Kaye, and her own arrangment of the old English ballad and classic cowboy tune "Streets of Larado," aslo known as "Cowboy's Lament."

A mix of haunting ballads and upbeat swing, the CD is Mary Kaye's third release, and another collection of keenly researched and written story songs that express her love of the West and its colorful characters of past and present. The first track, "Any Name Will Do," is about Butch Cassidy. For the fourth track, "Jenny's Lament," the singer-songwriter took Michael Burton's classic cowboy song "Night Rider's Lament" and wrote an "answer" song from the perspective of the female character, Jenny, who lost her cowboy to the open range. The song "Once Upon a Horse," which is about Mary Kaye's oldest daughter and her horse, will touch horse lovers. The songs in-between are masterfully arranged into a CD to which you won't tire of listening.

Known for her wide vocal range, tight vibrato and haunting yet sweet voice, Mary Kaye delivers a spellbinding, emotional vocal performance in every song she sings. She also strums magic on her guitar, using a "frailing" technique she says is similar to "clawing the strings like a bango player."

Named the 2011 Academy of Western Artists Female Performer of the Year, the 2010 Western Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year and Crescendo Award winner, Mary Kaye breathes freshness into the Western genre.

(July 2012, p. 103)

Western Ag Reporter: "Gifted Singer-Songwriter... Mary Kaye"

     It was a magical moment when singer-songwriter Mary Kaye took the stage at the Horse Barn Theater during the Butch Cassidy Festival on June 9th at the historic Wyoming Territorial Prison. With just her guitar to accompany her, Mary Kaye showed the supper crowd why she is the 2011 Academy of Western Arists' Female Perfomer of the Year, the Western Music Assocaition's (WMA) 2010 Female Volcalist of the Year and the 2010 WMA Crescendo Award Winner. With a three octave vocal range that reflects haunting influences by Emmy Lou Harris, Patsy Cline, and Kitty Wells and absolutely perfect pitch combined with her marvelous guitar-picking ability, it's no wonder that Mary Kaye is carving out a multiple award-winning career singing songs of the West, a landscape she says her life is immersed in.
      Born in Texas, raised in Texas and Mississippi, and now residing in central Utah with her husband and their 10 children, Mary Kaye pens her own original Western songs and also performs old Western classics that we all know and love. In 2010, Mary Kaye's 'Clean Outta Luck' album was on the top 20 western music charts for 12 months and her latest CD, 'No Wilder Place' has now been released and is being enthusiastically reviewed.
     "It's said that the spirit of the West sings in every soul," she says." I believe it, and I share this spirit in every performance."
     Mary Kaye tours extensively and has performed throughout the Western United States and Canada. If you're searching for some 'just right' entertainment for your soiree, I recommend you consider Mary Kaye....You'll be glad you did.

(Leesa Zalesky, Western Ag Reporter, Thursday, June 14, 2012, p. 11)

Cowboy Singer Mike Moutoux:

In referring to Mary Kaye’s song “The Road to Prescott,” Cowboy Singer Mike Moutoux, from Silver City, NM wrote:

“I love that song, heard you do it live and now on the new CD…really wonderful tune, stirring lyrics” (December 14, 2012).

Thanks Mike for those kind words. You can reach Mike at

Thanks for your lofty voice...

March 24, 2010

Dear Mary Kaye,

My wife and I were lucky to hear you at [Fetival of the West] this past weekend in Scottsdale. When you soared into the upper scales with "Wayward Wind" both my wife and I soared with you. You do have one of those spirit-lifting voices that make the day to day world melt away. I haven't heard a voice as pure since I heard Joan Baez at a club in San Francisco way, way back when.

We wanted to buy your CD with "Wayward Wind" on it, but the line seemed too long. We had horses tied up and had to get home and do chores. How can we find it? You deserve a bigger audience. We'll work hard from here to get your name out. Best wishes, and thank you, and God, for your gift.

Jim and Gayl Fritsch
Scottsdale, Arizona

(James T. Fritsch has been a teacher, carpenter, horse trainer, small-town newspaper reporter, actor, pilot, and professional investigator. He is the author of the book, The Untried Life, a culmination of fifteen years of research into the life and times of the Twenty-Ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.)

Review: No Wilder Place - American Cowboy Magazine
by Charley Engel

"Gifted with one of the most dynamic and original voices in Western music, Mary Kaye delivers the goods with powerful, honey-dipped Southern vocals that demonstrate why this up-and-comer has already garnered top awards from both the Academy of Western Artists and the Western Music Association."

(June/July 2012)

e'lan: Inspired Southwest Living:

"While raising ten children who are now between the ages of 6 and 24, singer-songwriter, Mary Kaye Knaphus, managed to win the Academy of Western Artists 2011 Female Performer of the Year, the Western Music Association 2010 Female Vocalist of the Year and the Crescendo Award for best new act, and has just released her third solo CD, 'No Wilder Place.'

One might be tempted to call Knaphus an overnight success, and in a way she is, but she says she was born to sing and has been doing so since she was a girl growning up in Texas and Mississippi. Blessed with a talent that others have called, 'a wider than usual vocal range (form soprano to near bass), and dead-on accurate pitch across wide note spreads,' Knaphus didn't find her way to the performance stage until 2009.

But when Knaphus picked up the guitar while pregnant with her tenth child, songs came pouring out of her. Her CD, 'The Real Thing,' contains 13 original songs inspired by her love for the landscapes and people of the West and love for her family. One of her songs tells of a southern belle named Lucy Larue who went out west to 'marry herself a cowboy,' a charecter that Knaphus identifies closely with.

Knaphus says her cowboy/husband/manager, Brad, 'moved heaven and earth' to get her booked at the Escalante Canyons Art Festival in 2011 'so we could have an excuse to visit one of the most beautuful places on earth.'

Mary Kaye so moved the crowds at last year's festival, Brad's earth-moving talents were not needed this year; the town and the festival are thrilled to have her back for two performances including a specail evening performance on Saturday, September 29th."

(Jana Richman, e'lan: Inspired Southwest Living, Summer 2012, p. 48)

Review: No Wilder Place -
The Western Way
by Rick Huff

"And now the question of our Western Age: How can such a good girl have such a good bad girl voice? On this new release Mary Kaye (Knaphus) proves again she can stretch to handle anything from haunting ballads to feel-good swing and she can bring out a level of sass and fight in her voice that few other ladies in Western have yet demonstrated!

A couple of answer songs are included this time. One is “Jenny’s Lament,” a musical response to Michael Burton’s much-covered “Night Rider’s Lament.” We now have the character Jenny’s view of how crazy they’ve gone out there. Mary Kaye’s other answer song has you hopin’ babies “Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” So take that, “Mammas!”

You’ll find a nice variety of styles, tempos and ideas to enjoy. Frankly all the tracks could qualify as “picks,” but I’ll mention “Fringe,” “No Wilder Place” (a co-write with the ever co-writing Les Buffham), “Any Name Will Do” and "Road To Prescott." Fourteen tracks total."

(Spring 2012, p. 39)

Dave & Sarah from England Blogged:

Dave & Sara, husband and wife from England, bicycling from the most northern road in North America to the most southern road in South American met Mary Kaye and her husband while Mary was performing in Escalante, Utah. They blogged about that meeting:

Date of Blog: Thursday, 18 October 2012

Escalante..!!!!!!! 28 & 29th September 2012

"Escalante, a plein air art contest and both types of music - country and western....

With that on offer in the small town of Escalante we decided to stay and see what was on offer.

The hit for us was a western singer called Mary Kaye (Knaphus). To my ears she had the voice of a star, and her songs were evocative and emotional, especially those based on true events or personal stories. We happened to sit next to her and her cowboy husband, Brad, at a cafe between her performances.

One fact of interest is that they have 10 children, roughly all 2 years apart. Yes, 10 as in ten. She did say that in Utah such information does not rise any eyebrows. But when mentioned in California it is often met by mass apoplexy and hysteria. Brad stated that he had no musical talent whatsoever. I told him he should take up the drums; with stats like that he sure can keep a beat."


2014 Follow Up from Dave and Sarah:

On Sunday, January 19, 2014 3:17 AM, Dave Dalziel wrote:

Just a short message to say that your music is never far from my ears. "Joy" is currently playing and remains a song that makes me wish I could I sing. It also makes Sarah wish I could sing as well.......So even in wet and cold England there is a little bit of country and western playing......

Dave & Sarah
(Brit Cyclists, Escalante Festival, 2012)

Pickin' Peggy Wrote:

When referring to Mary Kaye fellow Western entertainer Peggy Malone, from Fruita, CO, wrote:

"She truly has the finest voice that I have heard in a long time.... She will 'not' disappoint... Her voice is truly 'captivating'...!"

Peggy knows what she's talking about. Her credentials include:
- 45 yrs. Professional Singer/Guitarist
- Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee
- 2001 Heartland Emmy Award for Singer-Songwriter
- Colorado Music Hall Of Fame 2012 People's Choice Award

Thank you Peggy for those kind words and God bless you and your good husband. For performances Peggy can be reached at

Heidi Thomas Bloged,...

"I have a new favorite Western singer/songwriter to join Juni Fisher and Joni Harms on my Top Ten list: Mary Kaye, Academy of Western Artist’s 2011 Western Female Performer of the Year. She has a beautiful, clear-toned voice that I could listen to all day."

Singers Mary Kaye has been Compared To:

Patsy Cline
Kitty Wells
Emmy Lou Harris
Joan Baez
Wanda Jackson
Kelly Willis
Janice Joplin
Eva Cassidy

Outwest Concert Series Review of No Wilder Place:

"The latest release [No Wilder Place] from award winning singer/songwriter! Mary Kaye has performed three times at OutWest....She has been a guest on our radio show "Around the Barn" a couple of times too. She is as delightful in person as she is in concert - we always look forward to visiting with Mary Kaye and her husband Brad when they journey from their Utah home to California. I looked forward to this CD, her third single release, and am not disappointed. She is inspired by history, by her family, by love and laughter, by the landscape, and by her faith. You will be too."

(Bobbi Jean Bell @


Review: Clean Outta Luck - The Western Way
by Rick Huff

"As a singer Mary Crawford Knaphus (a.k.a.'Mary Kaye') brings to the table one of the more captivating vocal presentations to come along in a good while.

She boasts a wider than usual vocal range (from soprano to near bass), a very tight vibrato and dead-on accurate pitch across wide note spreads. They give her plenty of tools with which to express her music and she's obviously in control of all of them.

This CD, with its solid acoustic guitar accompaniment and interesting content, provides a terrific showcase for Mary Kaye's sweet to sassy performances. As a songwriter she is apparently equally at home with writing ballads, novelties or saga songs. Nine of the CD's twelve songs are originals. Any of them are strong enough to be picked up by other artists, but particularly ripe for covers are the title track 'Clean Outta Luck,' 'Three Nooses,' 'Lucy LaRue' and 'Cowboy Waltzin' Across Her Mind.'

No tray card came with the demo CD furnished for review, so I can't credit the fine guitar work on it. Just know it is fine. Also I have not been able to discover how to purchase the CD. Just get it if you see it!"

(Spring 2010, p. 47)

Review: Musikode Productions of Clean Outta Luck
by Marvin O'Dell

“When you hear Mary Kaye's CD 'Clean Outta Luck', you will realize that Dame Fortune has certainly not passed you by. Not since Katy Moffatt released her cowboy music CD a few years ago has a female vocalist so powerfully entered the western arena. When you first hear Mary Kaye sing, you can't help but wonder if she is for real. You tell yourself that this is the kind of voice that only comes from heaven. She is completely individualistic. You sense no influences. This is pure, marvelous, unalloyed vocal styling that comes as natural as a southern breeze. And her songwriting is fascinating. You'll want to listen to these songs time and time again to relive the stories so vividly told by Mary Kaye. 'Clean Outta Luck' brings you the brightest new sound in western music today from Musikode Record's newest artist.”

(Palm Desert, CA,, 2010)

Ogden Standard-Examiner, "Dynamic Duo is Coming to Town"
by Linda East Brady
Thursday, 11/18/2010 - 8:21pm

Richard Lee Cody and Mary Kaye will perform during Hometown Cowboy Christmas at the Golden Spike Arena in Ogden.

Richard Lee Cody and Mary Kaye, the most-nominated act by the Western Music Association for 2010, were not even an official duo at this time last year.

And their debut album, "Way Out West," was just released in March 2010. Yet against all odds, going into this year's ceremony, the twosome is riding high, with nominations for best male vocalist, best duo/group, album of the year, entertainers of the year, and the Crescendo award, given each year to the best new act.

They have also been nominated for this year's best duo/group by the American Western Association.

Not only that, "Way Out West" has also been tops on the Western music charts for the past six months.

The duo will be a featured act next weekend at Hometown Cowboy Christmas, a three-day holiday celebration with music, poetry and family fun at the Golden Spike Arena on the Weber County Fairgrounds.

Cody, who was born in Ogden and now lives in Heber City, and Kaye, of Manti, have worked previously as solo singers/songwriters/guitarists. They also had performed together in a traditional country revue.

"I had been moonlighting at Western gatherings for a while," said Cody, calling from home. "And I told Mary, 'I think there is a potential in a duet for Western music. I think we can really make a mark.' "

Cody had been invited to the Moab Western States Gathering last year when the promoters heard a demo CD that Kaye had made of original LDS/Christian music.

Said Cody: "They asked her, and by golly, since she did not have anything Western to sing, she sat down and wrote a whole album of songs for it."

That album, "Clean Outta Luck" went to No. 2 on the Western Music charts in 2009. The title cut went to No. 1.

"When I was invited to that Moab gathering, I said, 'What? I don't do cowboy music. I don't even know what that is, really,' " said Kaye, in a phone interview from Manti. "But I did a little research and wrote something for that gathering, and it was a hit. And so Richard Lee Cody and I teamed up after that."

Relative Newcomers

Many Western performers practically grow up singing in the saddle. Cody and Kaye, however, are relative newcomers. Cody, who raised quarter horses and cattle with his first wife, started playing guitar and writing songs when the two divorced in 2000.

Kaye bought her first guitar at age 39 as a birthday present to herself, almost four years ago. She started writing immediately, while still learning the instrument.

Cody said he started playing in large part to find meaning in his newly single life, but Kaye had almost a reverse situation. She was happily married with 10 children (now ranging in age from 4 to 23).

"Then my husband had encouraged me to get out and sing, so I did a few little karaoke things in the park," she said. "I bought the guitar and started writing all the time, and from that, found a second-wind career. For me, it is a good time of life for it to happen, because I feel like I have more to offer at this age than I did in my 20s."

Discovering a Voice

Cody was performing in a large country revue when he first stumbled on Kaye performing at a show in Beaver roughly four years ago.

"We were setting up a show in this park, and on the other side of the place they had this little stage where they had cloggers ... and kids singing and things like that. And here we were lugging in wires and whatnot when I heard one of the most beautiful sounds ever -- a voice. I went over there and two women were singing, and I could tell one of them was extremely gifted." He laughed. "I walked over to see whose lips were moving at the right point, and it was Mary."

He talked to her, and Kaye gave him her demo CD. Cody put it in his glove box and more or less forgot about it until two years later. That's when the female singer in his country revue left, and the producer asked him if he had a replacement in mind.

"I didn't even think of her at that moment," said Cody. "But then I had to get something out of my glove box a few days later, and the CD she'd given me just fell out. I went, 'Now, there's a girl singer.' "

He gave Kaye's CD to the producer, and she was soon hired for the act.

"She sang stuff for the show -- Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn and that kind of thing. And I'd also use her as a prop." Cody laughed. "I'd sit her on a stool and sing Conway Twitty to her -- 'Hello, darlin'.' "

Joining Forces

Invited to perform at last year's WMA Awards in Albuquerque, N.M., Cody decided to take Kaye along as his duet partner.

"I didn't ask permission to bring her. I figured it was better to say 'sorry' if it did not work out. Well, that performance alone set off a chain of events that got us rolling. Immediately after, we had numerous invitations to go to gatherings. We had a couple of songs started by then, but we really hunkered down and started working on that CD."

As to why this duo worked so well right out of the gate, Kaye laughed and said, "I ask myself that all the time. I think once in a while you are just lucky enough to strike onto something people relate to. We are both known for good, strong vocals. People love that combination of male-female voice."

Said Cody: "I think also what it is, especially in the West, is you've heard these stories -- drives, pioneers, coyotes, sagebrush -- and that might feel exotic in an urban setting. But once they sit down and listen to the lyrics, they hear a story in plain English without crazy vocal runs or cryptic messages.

"And the type of melodies that Western artists come up with are almost like listening to an African drum circle -- somehow so simple, somehow primitive, and yet reach in and suck you into the story, making you feel good."

"I think it is really about that spirit of the West," added Kaye. "It represents to people worldwide freedom and an independent spirit. I think that is what both Richard and I try to convey in our music. It is much less about trail rides than it is about the values and spirit of these people."