2009 Nationally Known Artist
Brothers Ralph and Carter Stanley were born in the mountains of Virginia. In 1946 the two organized a band called The Clinch Mountain Boys, which became one of the first bands to copy the Monroe style of “Bluegrass.” Carter sang lead and was considered to be one of the finest singers of his time. Ralph sang tenor and played the banjo. Many of their songs like “The White Dove”, “The Lonesome River”, and “The Fields Have Turned Brown” became well known hits. After Carter’s death in 1966, Ralph revived the Clinch Mountain Boys and continues to perform today.
2009 Pioneer Artist
Ola Belle Reed was born August 16, 1916 in a humble setting along the New River Valley of North Carolina. Due to the depression her family was forced to move to Chester County, PA where jobs were more available. Influenced by her family, she formed one of the first “hillbilly” bands, The North Carolina Ridge Runners, in the Delaware-Maryland area. She and her brother formed The New River Boys until he retired. After that she continued performing, joined by her husband and son. Additionally, she wrote or co-wrote over 200 songs still heard today.
Arthur Smith was born in Kershaw, South Carolina and at an early age developed a love for music. His career as a recording artist began in 1936 when he wrote and recorded his first hit record “Guitar Boogie” in 1945. Arthur re-recorded “Guitar Boogie” for MGM in 1948, and it became the first guitar instrumental to climb the country charts. In 1943, Arthur moved to Charlotte North Carolina (now his home) and took the job as a radio personality at WBT. With hit records and his notoriety in radio and television, Arthur’s career as an active performer spans more than 50 years.
2009 Recordings Industry
Mike Seeger was born in New York into a well-known musical family and grew up in Maryland. Although he is an accomplished musician who plays many instruments, he is also known for his distinctive voice in old-time traditional music. A founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, Mike considers “music a vehicle for history” as his career demonstrates. He is honored for his greatest contributions, which is his work with the Folkways Music Recording and Production industry.
2009 Sideman and Regional Musician
Eric Ellis grew up in North Wilkesboro North Carolina and is known as one of the best banjo players from the area. Although he works days for the NC DOT, he has developed one of the best known regional solo careers and has performed with entertainers like Bobby Hicks, Tony and Wyatt Rice and Jimmy Gaudreau. He can be heard on WKBC Radio on Friday mornings performing for the Main Street Music and Pawn Home Town Opry in North Wilkesboro.
The Primitive Quartet is a six-member gospel band that has been together for over 35 years. Their unusual beginning occurred during a fishing trip when they discovered they could harmonize. With music based on a shaped note style accompanied by acoustic instruments, they carry on the musical heritage of their region. National recognition has eluded them as they perform by choice within 300 miles of their home allowing them to spend more time with their families and their large following of friends
2009 Honorary Inductee
Mike Cross was born in Maryville, Tennessee and grew up in Lenoir, North Carolina. Although he loved stories and liked to write poems, he displayed no interest in music until a dedicated friend taught him a few chords on the guitar. His eclectic blend of folk, blues and country style sounds, has given birth to a new style he calls “Appalachian Mountain Boogie Blues”. He has written a multitude of songs like “The Scotsman” in 1973, which became the theme song for the Dr. Demento Radio Show. Today Mike still performs, writes songs and is now on a new venue of hosting programs like the Wilkes Heritage Museum’s“Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.”
2009 Honorary Inductee
Nancy Watson, a native of Wilkes County, grew up with a love of music. As her children grew she became more and more involved with local theatrical and musical events. Her experiences with the Walker Center, a 1200 seat auditorium, MerleFest and Singing in the Foothills prepared her for the difficult task of overseeing a new musical endeavor, the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. With an expression of gratitude, the committee recognizes and thanks her for her leadership, as their dream became a reality.