Doyle Lawson and late scholar Ralph Rinzler will join the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. The official induction will take place at the annual IBMA Awards on Sept. 27 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
Lawson grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and, influenced by Bill Monroe, taught himself how to play mandolin at age 11. His piercing, crystalline tenor vocals and crisp musicianship landed him a spot as the banjo player with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys by age 18. He went on to join J.D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys (later the New South). In 1971, Doyle joined the Country Gentlemen, and then founded his own band, Quicksilver, in 1979.
For more than three decades, Quicksilver has been one of bluegrass music’s most important “farm teams,” helping launch the careers of dozens of future bandleaders and sidemen. The band is known for its delivery of intricate a cappella gospel numbers that regularly bring awestruck crowds to their feet, roaring with approval. Lawson’s discography has grown to more than 40 recordings, supported by a busy touring schedule that includes their own Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Festival in Denton, NC each year.
Lawson has received numerous nominations and awards, including the International Bluegrass Music Award for Best Vocal Group an unprecedented seven years in a row. In 2006 he received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship
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A man of extraordinary talents, the late Ralph Rinzler (July 20, 1934 – July 15, 1994) was a scholar, musician, writer, promoter, producer, and social activist whose vision and life’s work inspired the passion, and launched the careers, of generations of musicians and artists. He was a member of the legendary Greenbriar Boys, guest-starred on recordings with Clarence Ashley and Joan Baez, and later won a Grammy for his production work on Folkways: A Vision Shared; Roots of Rhythm and Blues.
He learned Woody Guthrie’s tunes from Guthrie himself; accompanied Mike Seeger on his travels through Appalachia; produced events with Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Mary Travers; was an early teacher of David Grisman; and managed Bill Monroe. On a trip to western North Carolina in 1961 to make field recordings of rural folk musicians for Folkways Records, he met Doc Watson and arranged bookings for him in Northeastern urban venues that helped the guitarist gain national recognition.
Rinzler helped co-found the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall in 1967 and went on to become a curator of American art, music, and folk culture at the Smithsonian. Within about a decade, the festival’s profound success prompted the creation of the office that ultimately became the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies, with Rinzler at its helm. In 1987 he received IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award. The Smithsonian Institute named the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections in his honor in 1998.
The International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame is housed in the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. Each year a nominating committee, consisting of music industry leaders, creates a slate of 10-15 candidates. From these names, a panel of more than 200 electors in the music industry cast ballots to narrow the nominees to five finalists. The panel votes a final time to select the inductee(s) for that year.