When legends come to mind there is one star that shines above them all that is none other than the country and bluegrass icon Dr. Ralph Stanley.
Stanley will be in concert May 15 at 8 p.m. at Springfield’s Mars Theatre.
For over six decades Ralph Stanley has become one of the most influential artists of all time. Born in 1927 in Big Spraddle, Va., 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, traveling together for 20 years, recording some of the most mournful mountain songs to date.
Their catalog of songs include “Angel Band,” “Rank Strangers,” “Little Maggie” and the famed “Man Of Constant Sorrow.” Tragedy struck the Stanley Brothers on Dec. 1, 1966, with the untimely passing of 41-year-old Carter. 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.
Some of country and bluegrass music’s biggest stars came from Ralph Stanley’s band, including Ricky Skaggs, Larry Sparks and the late Keith Whitley. Stanley’s music has moved and inspired performers from all musical genres. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Jerry Garcia, Hal Ketchum, Patty Loveless, John Anderson credit Stanley as a major inspiration. In 1976, Stanley received a honorary doctorate of music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Stanley was a 1984 recipient of the “National Heritage Award,” given by President Reagan. In 1992, Stanley was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and In 2000, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
In 2001, Stanley received his first 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 2002, at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, he won Best Bluegrass Album, Lost In The Lonesome Pines (Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys). He received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress and National Medal of Arts given by President George W. Bush in 2006.
Tickets for the Mars show are $67 for adults For tickets and more information, visit MarsTheatre.com.