Va. Bluegrass Musician Honored at General Assembly


RICHMOND Bluegrass musician Ralph Stanley was honored as a 2008 Outstanding Virginian this past Wednesday at the General Assembly.

With his wife and son, Stanley a native of southwest Virginias Dickinson County attended the ceremonial session, where he was honored by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

In 1984, the General Assembly designated the second Saturday in May as a day of recognition for Outstanding Virginians. Sen. William C. Wampler, R-Bristol, spoke about Stanleys accomplishments and contributions to Virginia.

In Virginia, we have a lot of cultural heritage, and today we have one of our finest citizens from Dickinson County here, Wampler said. He has been known to make a little music from time to time. 

Stanley has performed bluegrass music for decades and is credited with creating the Stanley Style of banjo playing. The Stanley Style is characterized by a fast forward roll of the index finger.

Stanley received an honorary Doctorate of Music in 1976 from Lincoln Memorial University and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992, said Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Tazewell.

Stanley and his older brother, Carter Stanley, founded The Stanley Brothers and The Clinch Mountain Boys. Stanley continued to perform solo after his brothers death in 1966. Throughout his career, Stanley has performed on more than 170 albums, tapes and CDs, Puckett said.

After 55 years in the business, he is still the best banjo picker and entertainer in bluegrass music, Puckett said.

Bolling said he grew up in southwestern Virginia listening to the music of Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys. Bollings father was a bluegrass fan.

This is my third year as lieutenant governor, and I have had occasion on this dais to greet professional athletes and politicians from all over the county and around (the) world, but I have had no greater thrill than the chance today to stand here with Dr. Stanley, Bolling said.