Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley will always be remembered for his unique style of banjo playing, combining elements of bluegrass, country and folk to form his much-loved style. In 1946, after serving one year in the US Army, Ralph Stanley formed The Clinch Mountain Boys with his older brother Carter who had previously found fame in Roy Sykes's Blue Ridge Mountain Boys. As the duo tried to get people to notice and appreciate their sound, they performed on local radio stations, wrote their own bluegrass tunes and covered well-known Bill Monroe classics. Their hard work paid off when they received an offer of a recording contract as The Stanley Brothers with Columbia Records. The Stanley Brothers created a name for themselves, with backing from their group The Clinch Mountain Boys, and after a brief hiatus from 1951 to '53, they continued to perform up until Carter's death in 1966. After his brother's passing, Ralph made the difficult decision to carry on performing as a solo act, being awarded an Honorary Doctorate Of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in 1976 for his services to bluegrass. Throughout the 1980s and '90s Ralph continued to perform and further advance the popularity of bluegrass music. In 1992 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall Of Honor and in 2000 received his induction into the Grand Ole Opry, historically the first inductee of the new millennium. In 2002 Ralph won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his song O Death which was featured in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? This honour was followed up in 2006 when he was awarded the National Medal Of Arts from the United States Congress. His death came in June 2016 after a brief battle with cancer.

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