What’s new with the STANLEYs By Jeanie Stanley
By now, the Country Music Associations’ members are beginning the voting process on who the three recipients to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018 will be. Perhaps this will be the year for the Stanley Brothers. Ralph Stanley’s exhibit will open July 13 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN. I like to think that this is a big step in the right direction for the Stanley Brothers getting closer to a Hall of Fame induction there. Ralph Stanley passed away on June 23, 2016, due to complications from skin cancer. For 20 years, he and his elder brother, Carter, performed together as the Stanley Brothers. During that period of time, Carter Stanley was the driving force in getting their music out to the public, in putting together the band members and basically, in putting together the very sound that still defines their music to this day. They have come to be known as one of the most influential bluegrass/ole-time mountain music duos ever and are known all over the world. Carter Stanley died on December 1, 1966. Ralph was devastated but continued performing for the most part because he knew that’s what his brother would have wanted him to do. In 2001, Dr. Ralph’s haunting recording of “O Death” for the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack won the Best Male Country Vocal Grammy. It was Carter Stanley’s version of the old English ballad, ‘I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow’ that was nominated for Song of the Year by the Country Music Association that same year. I was told that it’s very hard for an artist who’s deceased to win in that category. The body of the work created by the Stanley Brothers has made an impact on countless musicians, including Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley (both members of Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys band), Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakem and Emmylou Harris.
The world-renowned filmmaker, Ken Burns, is in the process of putting together an 8-part documentary series on the history of country music which is supposed to air in the fall of 2019. The Stanley Brothers will be included in this project. I am at this moment putting together photos to be used in the film. Yet another reason for the Stanley Brothers to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Their reach and impact appear to be limitless.
More exciting news is that Peter Rowan’s project that’s been in the works for quite some time is due out on Rebel Records this spring. It’s entitled ‘The Light in Carter Stanley’s Eyes.’ Peter was kind enough to ask me for a photo he could use. We talked several times on the phone about his collection of material. Peter has always looked up to my father with the utmost respect and admiration. He found an old recording of my father, Carter, singing a song solo but that was never commercially recorded, called ‘The Brakeman.’ Some stellar singers/musicians are included on this epic album.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will receive a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) to help preserve a rare Stanley Brothers recording from the museum’s collection. The recording is a transcription disc from a live recording during the Stanley Brothers tenure at Bristol radio station WCYB. The recording had deteriorated considerably and has not been playable in several decades.
The recording was selected earlier this year as one of VAM’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts and was part of an online competition to receive varying amounts of grant money to help toward the artifacts’ restoration. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum and their Stanley Brothers recording received nearly 6,000 votes, coming in several hundred votes ahead of the second-place organization. All of the organizations in the Top 10 will receive recognition at a reception at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond on February 21.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum plans to restore the music contained on the disc through a technology known as IRENE, which takes detailed images of the grooves on the record and recreates the sound using those images. The disc itself is too fragile and damaged to ever play again. Hopefully, the audio will soon be available once more.
I am also planning and looking forward to the 48th Annual Hills of Home Bluegrass Festival being held on Thursday, May 24, Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26, 2018, (Memorial Day weekend) on Smith Ridge, between Dickinson County & Coeburn, VA. Make your plans to come. The lineup of talent for all three days is terrific. If you’ve never been you don’t know what you’re missing. This is beautiful country and we welcome you to come fellowship with us. All I can say is it’s like one big, happy, family reunion.
While talking to my cousin, Ralph Stanley II, recently, he informed me that he will begin working on his upcoming album very soon. This project will be a very special one. It will be his very first all-gospel recording. I’m happy to say that I’m very excited to hear that. I can’t wait!
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