PRESTONSBURG — Saturday night will be history in the making at the Mountain Arts Center, as two behemoths of bluegrass take the stage together.
That is the night that Dr. Ralph Stanley and Larry Sparks will be in concert at the MAC, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $26.
For over six decades he has become one of the most influential artists of all time. Born in 1927 in Big Spraddle, Va., Ralph Stanley was the second child of Lucy Jane and Lee Stanley. In 1946 along with his older brother Carter Stanley they formed the legendary Stanley Brothers duo. The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys became one of the most popular brother acts in Country Music history. The Stanley Brothers traveled together for 20 years recording some of the most mournful mountain songs to date.
The Stanley BrothersTheir catalog of songs includes “Angel Band”, “Rank Strangers”, “Little Maggie” and the famed “Man of Constant Sorrow”. Tragedy struck the Stanley Brothers on December 1st 1966 with the untimely passing of 41 year old Carter Stanley. Ralph was disheartened and discouraged with his brother’s death but by faith in God and support of his family, friends and fans Ralph Stanley pressed on.
Some of Country and Bluegrass music’s biggest stars came from Ralph Stanley’s band, including Ricky Skaggs, Larry Sparks and the late Keith Whitley. In 1976 Ralph received an honorary doctorate of music from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN. In 1984 Dr. Ralph Stanley was the Recipient of the “National Heritage Award” given by President Ronald Reagan. In 1992 Ralph was inducted into the” International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor”. In 2000 he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
In 2002 Ralph Stanley received his first ever Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance of the haunting rendition of “Oh Death” that was featured in the movie and soundtrack of “O Brother Where Art Thou”. In 2006 He received the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress and National medal of arts given by President George W. Bush.
Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys are still touring a 100 plus dates per year, and enjoying his time at home with his lovely wife “Jimmi” of nearly 50 years. Dr. Ralph Stanley is not only an American treasure but and international Icon.
Larry Sparks is a dedicated leader for bluegrass music. Larry is among the most widely-known and respected touring musicians in bluegrass and gospel music today. Larry began his career in the mid-1960”s as guitarist with the Stanley Brothers and later became lead vocalist for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Larry went on to form his own band in 1969 (the Lonesome Ramblers) He has recorded and toured with his band for over four decades, releasing over 60 albums and delighting countless fans with his soulful vocals and unparalleled musicianship.
Releasing such hits as John Deere Tractor, A Face in the Crowd, Tennessee 1949, Blue Virginia Blues, I Just Want to Thank You Lord, Love of the Mountains, Goodbye Little Darlin, You Could Have Called, Tribute to Hank Williams, Green Pastures in the Sky and the list goes on.
Larry has performed on such world famous venues as the Grand Ole Opry Austin City Limits television show on PBS. Song of the Mountains on PBS. Also having toured the United States, Canada and Japan
Larry has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year. Larry also was awarded Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year with his album Larry Sparks 40 featuring several artists such as Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall and many more.
Larry received the honor of being inducted into the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into The George D. Hays Hall of fame. Larry has also been nominated for a Grammy Dove award for his Gospel album New Highway.
Larry’s 50th Celebration CD will be due out in the spring of 2014. Featuring Bluegrass Legends. Ralph Stanley,Curly Seckler, Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Alison Krauss and Judy Marshall.
While Sparks is most defiantly a stylist and his approach to the music is more than a style ,it is real with no gimmicks and after 50 years in the spotlight. Larry is still on a roll and creating some of his best music. As Alison Krauss, no slouch herself in the world of bluegrass music, “Larry Sparks is bluegrass music’s Ray Charles, no one can touch him. He is an absolute original.”
Throughout his long career Larry has stuck with what works. He has followed his vision and he has made an enormous contribution to the music. Larry Sparks has kept his music real.