Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs & Pattty Loveless Sang at Ralph Stanley's Funeral

Ralph Stanley

Stanley died on June 23 s a result of skin cancer, he was 89 years-old. The bluegrass icon was laid to rest on Tuesday (June 28), at the Hills of Home Park, located on Carter Stanley Highway on Smith Ridge, which is between Coeburn, Va., and McClure, Va. Hills of Home Park is where Stanley annually hosted a Memorial Day Weekend bluegrass festival. Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Ricky Skaggs were among the musicians who paid tribute to the bluegrass legend. 

The trio shared the stage for "Go Rest High on That Mountain," a moving song Gill began writing in 1989 shortly after country singer Keith Whitley died, and later finished after his brother died of a heart attack in 1993. Skaggs and Loveless sing backup harmonies on the recording and occasionally perform the song with him on stage.

"If it had not been for the music of the Stanley Brothers, especially Ralph's voice, I wouldn't have known how to write this song, and I wouldn't have known how to sing this song," said Gill. 

Stanley's music also made a tremendous impression on Loveless, particularly during the early years of her career.

"He was the one that taught me how to sing," said Loveless. "When I was a little girl, I didn't know it, but when I would listen - when Daddy would listen and Mom would listen to the music ... it reached inside my heart, and I continue to try my best to touch people's lives as Ralph did with his voice."

Stanley was born and raised in southwest Virginia, a land of coal mines and deep forests where he and his brother formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. Their father would sing them old traditional songs like "Man of Constant Sorrow," while their mother, a banjo player, taught them the old-time clawhammer style, in which the player's fingers strike downward at the strings in a rhythmic style.

Heavily influenced by Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe, the brothers fused Monroe's rapid rhythms with the mountain folk songs from groups such as the Carter Family, who hailed from this same rocky corner of Virginia.

The Stanleys created a distinctive three-part harmony that combined the lead vocal of Carter with Ralph's tenor and an even higher part sung by bandmate Pee Wee Lambert. Carter's romantic songwriting professed a deep passion for the rural landscape, but also reflected on lonesomeness and personal losses.

Songs like "The Lonesome River," uses the imagery of the water to evoke the loss of a lover, and "White Dove," describes the mourning and suffering after the death of a mother and father. In 1951, they popularized "Man of Constant Sorrow," which was also later recorded by Bob Dylan in the '60s. 


Tags : Vince Gill ralph stanley patty loveless ricky skaggs ralph stanley funeral ralph stanley dies

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