Bluegrass Music Patriarch Dr. Ralph Stanley Old Time Appalachian Mountain Music Legend

5:13PM February 17, 2019
Written by Pam Vance

Feb­ru­ary 25th, 1927 – June 23rd, 2016

Grand Ole Opry Mem­ber, Gram­my Award Win­ner, Blue­grass Leg­end

When leg­ends come to mind there is one star that shines above them all that is none oth­er than the leg­endary icon Dr. Ralph Stan­ley. For over 6 decades he has become one of the most influ­en­tial artists of all time. Born in 1927 in Big Sprad­dle VA, Ralph Stan­ley was the sec­ond child of Lucy Jane and Lee Stan­ley. In 1946 along with his old­er broth­er Carter Stan­ley they formed the leg­endary Stan­ley Broth­ers duo. The Stan­ley Broth­ers and the Clinch Moun­tain Boys became one of the most pop­u­lar broth­er acts in Coun­try Music his­to­ry. The Stan­ley Broth­ers trav­eled togeth­er for 20 years record­ing some of the most mourn­ful moun­tain songs to date.

Their cat­a­log of songs includes “Angel Band”, Rank Strangers”, “Lit­tle Mag­gie” and the famed “Man of Con­stant Sor­row”. Tragedy struck the Stan­ley Broth­ers on Decem­ber 1st 1966 with the untime­ly pass­ing of 41-year-old Carter Stan­ley. Ralph was dis­heart­ened and dis­cour­aged with his brother’s death but by faith in God and sup­port of his fam­i­ly, friends and fans Ralph Stan­ley pressed on.

Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain BoysSome of Coun­try and Blue­grass music’s biggest stars came from Ralph Stanley’s band, includ­ing Ricky Skag­gs, Lar­ry Sparks and the late Kei­th Whit­ley. In 1976 Ralph received an hon­orary doc­tor­ate of music from Lin­coln Memo­r­i­al Uni­ver­si­ty in Har­ro­gate, TN. In 1984 Dr. Ralph Stan­ley was the Recip­i­ent of the “Nation­al Her­itage Award” giv­en by Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan. In 1992 Ralph was induct­ed into the” Inter­na­tion­al Blue­grass Music Hall of Hon­or”. In 2000 he was induct­ed into the Grand Ole Opry.

In 2002 Ralph Stan­ley received his first ever Gram­my Award for Best Male Coun­try Vocal Per­for­mance of the haunt­ing ren­di­tion of “Oh Death” that was fea­tured in the movie and sound­track of “O Broth­er Where Art Thou”. In 2006 He received the Liv­ing Leg­end award from the Library of Con­gress and Nation­al medal of arts giv­en by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush.

Ralph Stanley MuseumThe Ralph Stan­ley Muse­um is locat­ed in Clint­wood, Vir­ginia in Dick­en­son Coun­ty.  The muse­um is open Tues­day – Sat­ur­day from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm.  Admis­sion is $5.00 per per­son.

The Muse­um pro­vides back­ground of Ralph Stanley’s upbring­ing in the local moun­tain church­es where tra­di­tion­al moun­tain music was based on shape note har­monies with no instru­ments. The Muse­um walks you through the life of Ralph and his broth­er as they built a career based on the Blue­grass moun­tain tunes and musi­cal har­monies cap­tured in the #Heart of Appalachia region.

Dr. Ralph Stanley - Grammy AwardExhibits in the Muse­um are enhanced by head phones that plug into a vari­ety of lis­ten­ing sta­tions, allow­ing the vis­i­tor to hear inter­views of band mem­bers, famous Blue­grass and Coun­try Music Stars, and record­ings of Stanley’s music.  The his­to­ry of the Clinch Riv­er Boys and Stanley’s rise to nation­al and inter­na­tion­al star­dom is pre­served and inter­pret­ed in the Ralph Stanley Award - O Brother, Where Art ThouMuse­um.

To learn about the Ralph Stan­ley Muse­um in Clint­wood, Vir­ginia.

To plan your vis­it to the Muse­um, oth­er attrac­tions and to vis­it music venue per­for­mances of tra­di­tion­al moun­tain music  in the region, click here.

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