Ralph Stanley is considered the elder statesmen of bluegrass and one who has not slowed down. His recording and performing career has been prolific. He began in 1946, forming a group with his brother Carter called the Stanley Brothers. Later they formed the Clinch Mountain Boys with Ralph on banjo and Carter on guitar and developed their own bluegrass sound. When Carter died in 1966, Ralph continued the group and still plays today as Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. He has produced dozens of CDs over the last half century. John Wright's Traveling the Highway Home: Ralph Stanley and the World of Traditional Bluegrass Music (Univ. of Illinois Press, 1993) is an excellent portrait of this complex figure. His long career got a recent boost with the dramatic use of his recording,"O Death" in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou. He appeared at carnegie hall as well as on David Letterman in early 2001 with the other artists from that film's soundtrack. A major profile of his career was published in the August 20/27, 2001 issue of the New Yorker and his latest release, Clinch Mountain Sweethearts (Rebel) is a collection of duets with Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Iris DeMent, Lucinda Williams, and others. Appalshop recently released a video documentary, The Ralph Stanley Story (2000). He has also recorded an astonishing number of gospel albums.
Back to Artists