Trailblazing musician and three-time Grammy winner Ralph Stanley has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in a class that also includes actor and director Al Pacino, novelists John Irving and Annie Proulx, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and oceanographer and discoverer of the Titanic, Robert Ballard.
Stanley will be inducted formally into the Academy at its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Oct. 11. The Academy was founded in 1780 to recognize America’s foremost “thinkers and doers.” Among its past members are George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Martin Luther King Jr. Current members include more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize-winners.
In May, Stanley was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree from Yale University. It was his second such distinction, the first having been conferred in 1976 by Lincoln Memorial University.
Recognized as the leading exponent of traditional Appalachian music and a founding father of bluegrass, Stanley has spread his sound around the world during his 68 years of touring and recording. He began his career in 1946 as the younger half of the Stanley Brothers, a group then headed by singer-songwriter Carter Stanley. The Stanley Brothers performed, recorded and appeared on television together until Carter’s death in 1966. In 2000, Stanley’s popularity skyrocketed with the success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
Last summer, Stanley launched his farewell tour, billed as Man of Constant Sorrow Tour: The Dr.’s Farewell, however his website now states, “Dr. Ralph Stanley will NOT be retiring this year. Even though this was the original plan, Dr. Stanley still is feeling great and going strong.”
Stanley states, “God has had his hand on my career for the past 68 years. It’s up to him when I will quit. I have no plans of slowing down. I love my fans, and I love performing.”
Carry on, brother.
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