Country Music Hall of Fame


Ralph Stanley: Voice From On High

July 13, 2018 - April 07, 2019



Exhibit Now Open
Presented by Cook Out and
Supported by Carter Vintage Guitars

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum tells the story of legendary mountain musician Ralph Stanley in its exhibition Ralph Stanley: Voice from on High. The exhibit opened July 13, 2018, and will run through Jan. 6, 2019.

"Stanley’s unique style and distinctive tenor broke new ground in bluegrass, and he became a standard-bearer for country music’s Appalachian folk roots," said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. "He has influenced iconic musicians including Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris and Class of 2018 member-elect Ricky Skaggs. His powerful music remains a touchstone for musicians and fans worldwide, and we are honored to examine the indelible impact he had on American music."

The award-winning singer and banjo player started his professional career in 1946 playing music in the Clinch Mountains of southwest Virginia alongside his older brother Carter in the legendary duo the Stanley Brothers, with their band the Clinch Mountain Boys. When Carter died 20 years later, in 1966, Stanley took over leadership of the band himself. He went on to achieve national fame when his a cappella rendition of "O Death" appeared on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? film soundtrack in 2000. His performance captured the 2001 Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal.

The National Endowment for the Arts named Stanley a National Heritage Fellow in 1984. He was elected to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1992 and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000. When he died, in 2016, he represented one of country music’s last links to its folk roots in Appalachia.

"This is a special moment for me personally and the entire family," said Stanley’s son Ralph Stanley II. "Dad has been such an influence on me as an artist, but also on countless other country music stars today. Growing up by his side and getting to witness the impact he has had is something that I cherish more than words. It really comes to life now that he is going to be highlighted in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which he highly respected."

Highlights of the exhibition Ralph Stanley: Voice from on High include:

· Gibson RB-2 banjo with pearloid fretboard and  headstock overlay purchased by Stanley from a Virginia coal miner. He used it extensively early in the Stanley Brothers’ career.

· Modified 1957 Martin D-28 with custom pickguard and D-45 neck guitar used by Carter Stanley to write the bluegrass standard "The White Dove."

· Pagano West western-style suit and Daniali USA shirt with rounded collar and key-shaped rhinestone decorative applique worn by Stanley.

· Hand-tooled leather guitar strap used by Larry Sparks with the Clinch Mountain Boys. He was with the group from 1966 to 1969, when he left to pursue a solo career.

· Microphones used on the Farm and Fun Time Hour, on Bristol, Virginia, radio station WCYB in the 1940s.

· Radio transmitter controls and reading monitor used in the mid-1950s to help WCYB broadcast its 10,000-watt signal throughout the southern Appalachians. The signal reached five states, across valleys and mountains.

This exhibition is made possible, in part, by presenting sponsor Cook Out and supporting sponsor Carter Vintage Guitars.

"As devoted enthusiasts of genuine bluegrass music, we are delighted for Cook Out restaurants to join the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in honoring the legendary Ralph Stanley," said Morris and Jeremy Reaves, owners of Cook Out.

"Ralph Stanley's music gave listeners a direct line to the heart and soul of Appalachia, and he is still an inspiration for everyone who plays a vintage guitar, mandolin or banjo," said Walter Carter of Carter Vintage Guitars. "We're proud to join with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in honoring one of the most important artists in any genre of music."

With an unduplicated collection of more than 2.5 million artifacts, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the most visited museums in the United States. Ralph Stanley’s exhibition joins a year packed with star-studded exhibitions including American Currents: The Music of 2017, Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s, Little Big Town: The Power of Four and upcoming exhibits featuring The Judds (opening August 10, 2018) and Emmylou Harris (opening October 2, 2018).

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