Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Receives Honorary Degree

He’s already known as “Dr. Ralph Stanley,” after receiving honorary doctorate of music in 1976 from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Now the 87-year-old bluegrass legend can add an honorary doctorate from Yale to his resume.

Yesterday (May 19), Stanley was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Yale during the university’s commencement ceremonies. Other honorees included World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee and playwright/actress/professor Anna Deavere Smith.

Ralph is half of pioneering bluegrass duo the Stanley Brothers, who started recording in the 1940s. They were the first act to play music in the bluegrass style of Bill Monroe, the genre’s founder, taking it in new directions that echoed the mountain music they grew up listening to and playing (Monroe saw them as competition and even switched record labels after they were signed to Columbia). Some of the best-known Stanley Brothers songs include “Little Glass of Wine,” “I’m a Man of Constant Sorrow,” “Rank Stranger” and “Memories of Mother.”


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