In 1946, Ralph Stanley was a 19-year-old, fresh-off-the-farm banjo picker when he and his brother, Carter, began performing together on radio station WCYB in Bristol, Tenn.
Beginning as an old-timey brother duet, the Stanleys were soon converted to the music of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys. As one of the first acts to emulate Monroe’s new sound, the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys soared as one of the most popular bluegrass acts of the 1950s and ’60s.
Following Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph mentored a host of young talents, including Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley. At 86, he’s the elder statesman of bluegrass music.
The Grammy-winning banjoist has been honored with a National Heritage Award and a National Medal of Arts. Friday, Ralph and His Clinch Mountain Boys will pick and sing at Wesleyan College’s Dunn Center in Rocky Mount. www.ncwc.edu/arts/dunncenter