There was a time when singer Katie Laur occupied a unique position in the state, if not the nation. To hear Laur tell it, touring the country with her bluegrass band, playing gigs on A Prairie Home Companion, producing a series of vinyl records "” well, a woman just wasn't in this kind of business.

"There were maybe two women fronting bluegrass bands," Laur recalls of those heady days making a living on the road, performing with The Katie Laur Band on the rowdy nightclub circuit. "I was blessed to be a woman pioneer."

Laur points to her beloved bluegrass as a unique American sound, capturing the movement and melancholy of an entire population escaping the rural South. "Everybody was moving, looking for jobs and money. Bluegrass encapsulates that shift of a generation, from the country to the towns. It's the sound of stress. It's the rhythm of a factory assembly line. It's the tinny sound of trying to tune in a radio station while driving through Ohio. That's why I became devoted to it." Laur "” who performs this month at Coney Island's annual Summerfair "” says she's scaled back her gigs even as she continues hosting WNKU-FM's Music from the Hills of Home every Sunday. "In the summers, I work pretty much, but just outdoors. I am past playing inside bars, with all the smoke, the late hours, the stressful environment. I'd rather wait for the family festivals and fairs."

Born in 1944 in Paris (Tennessee, that is), Laur settled in Cincinnati in 1966 "” if "settled" is ever a word you could use in connection with the singer. Yes, she had a "real" job for a short while, as a secretary at General Electric. But then the road beckoned. Laur crisscrossed the country, playing hazy bars and reckless taverns. "It was a wonderful life, traveling on the road, but it sure doesn't make for a lot of peace of mind."

Ultimately, Laur would always drift back to Over-the-Rhine's Main Street and its collection of bohemian nightclubs and coffeehouses, most notably her favorite, Aunt Maudie's. Laur even titled her most recent album "Main Street," and some shops on the drag proudly stock the CD.

From day one of her career, "I did make a living out of it, if you can call it a living," Laur recalls with her signature throaty laugh. "I recorded four albums with The Katie Laur Band, including a jazz album."

Laur's career reached its zenith in the early '80s, when her band appeared multiple times on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion broadcast. "Garrison always put us up and cooked for us," she recalls.

Laur capped her career with a 2005 induction into the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky. "Once you're in the museum and have got that kind of recognition," she laments, "it's hard to know where to go next."