Alison Krauss brought The Cox Family to the attention of Rounder Records in the late 1980s, where they released a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful projects for the label, including 1994’s Grammy-winning I Know Who Holds Tomorrow (a collaboration with Krauss).
The Coxes signed with Asylum Records and released Just When We Were Thinking It’s Over, their major label debut album in 1996. Recording sessions for Gone Like the Cotton began in 1998, but shortly thereafter, label executive changes at Asylum left the Coxes without a champion. The project was shelved, and the Coxes were released from their contract.
Fast forward to 2014, a chance conversation about The Coxes with former Asylum label President Kyle Lehning and John Esposito, President & CEO of Warner Music Nashville (home to the Asylum catalog), led to the resurrection of the album. Original album producer Alison Krauss and original album engineer Gary Paczosa jumped at the opportunity to continue the sessions, 17 years after they initially began.
Producer Alison Krauss reflects, "I can't remember when I've been lucky enough to be witness to a story where such generosity and talent come together so perfectly. I've had the time of my life getting to work on the record again. The Cox Family hold a place in my heart like no other and listening to them for all of us is like coming home.”
"We couldn’t be more proud or thrilled to welcome the Cox Family back to Rounder,” said Rounder Label Group President John Virant. "This album exemplifies the term ‘labor of love,’ and though it took 17 years, and the efforts of many people to see this album through to completion, it was well worth the wait. We’re so grateful to everyone who played a part in reviving this magnificent album, especially Alison Krauss and Gary Paczosa, who have tirelessly championed the Cox Family’s music for as long as I can remember.”
""Fate and chance met in a conversation with Kyle( Lehning) where I learned of this hidden gem of an album from this amazing family band," said Esposito. "When we engaged with Alison and the Cox Family, we all got excited and knew we had to complete this album. Music and artistry are the cornerstones of Warner Music Nashville. Art is timeless and we are thrilled to be a part of bringing this special album to the world 17 years later."
"Seventeen years ago, we walked out of a little studio in Nashville after completing a good bit of the lead vocals for what we thought to be a true exemplar of the kind of music that represented our sound. Seventeen years later, we walk back through that same door,” said group member Sidney Cox. "There’s Alison, sitting in the same spot beside Gary Paczosa, right where we left him, just like nothing had ever happened. I remember Gary spinning around in his chair and saying, ‘Where have you guys been? We’ve been waiting for you.’”
In the intervening years, the Coxes experienced both triumphs and tragedies: they contributed a song, "I Am Weary, Let Me Rest” to the surprise smash-hit soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and made a brief appearance in the film. The soundtrack album eventually sold over 8 million copies, and won five Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year Grammy. Shortly after the Cox Family finished work on O Brother, the elder Coxes, Willard and Marie, were critically injured in an automobile accident. Family matriarch Marie recovered completely from her injuries a few months later, but bandleader & fiddler Willard permanently lost the use of his legs. The group eventually resumed touring, but their recording career was indefinitely placed on hold – until now.
Gone Like The Cotton is a stunning work, of which Rolling Stone’s Stephen Betts writes "Like the Cox Family's previous efforts, Gone Like the Cotton is built on a solid country-music foundation with sensational harmony singing and inspired song selection… the Coxes haven't missed a beat, a tasty instrumental lick, or a sterling vocal performance in spite of the nearly two decades between the album's late 20th century start and glorious 2015 finish.”