Awarded: April 2000
(b. Feb. 25, 1927)
Ralph Stanley is the elder statesman of bluegrass music since the death of Bill Monroe in 1996. Along with his late brother, Carter, and his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, Stanley represents the history of bluegrass music, both in his own experimentation and in remaining true to the roots of this traditional musical style. He performed with his brother on local radio in 1946, when they were teenagers, and later for Bristol, Tenn.’s WCYB, the “five state station.” On the road with his banjo for more than half a century, Stanley has recorded more than 150 albums, received numerous awards and been the subject of a comprehensive study. In 1984, he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.