Stanley, Ralph Edmond, 1927–, American bluegrass singer and banjo player, b. Dickenson co., Va. He and his brother, Carter Glen Stanley, 1925–66, were sons of a country-singer father and banjo-playing mother. The Stanley Brothers began playing together professionally in 1942, with Carter singing lead and playing guitar to Ralph's high and hard tenor harmony and skilled banjo picking. In the mid-1940s they formed their own group, the Clinch Mountain Boys. Their style ranged from country to bluegrass, and they wrote some of their own material. In 1947 the Stanleys made their first recordings, and they continued playing and recording together until Carter's death. Ralph subsequently re-formed the Clinch Mountain Boys, and his son, Ralph Stanley 2d, became the group's lead singer in 1995. During his career, Ralph Stanley has recorded more than 150 albums and has become a bluegrass legend. He gained a wider audience when he sang in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).
See study by J. Wright (1993).