Family, friends and musicians gathered at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Thursday evening (June 12) to honor one of bluegrass' pioneering voices, Ralph Stanley, with the opening of a new exhibit titled Ralph Stanley: Voice From on High. The exhibit includes instruments, awards, songbooks and other memorabilia from Stanley's storied career as the banjo player and vocalist behind the legendary group the Clinch Mountain Boys.

In advance of the opening, Stanley's son, Ralph Stanley II, spoke to The Boot alongside the exhibit. "It means the world to me to see this," he explained. "I know Dad would be flattered by this, and he deserves everything. There's a lot of stuff in here that brings back a lot of memories, but there's also stuff in here that I've never seen before." One such item was a silver guitar owned by Stanley II's uncle, and his father's musical partner, Carter Stanley.

In a reception for the event, Stanley II addressed the crowd to share his thoughts on the occasion: "There've been a lot of great banjo players and a lot of great singers," he said, "but there just ain't nobody that could play it with the feel and emotion that Dad had."

Stanley II went on to recall his father's influence on musicians across the genre spectrum, and in particular one occasion, after a performance in Santa Monica, Calif., when Tom Petty approached him, too starstruck to walk up to Stanley himself to say hello. "He came over to us and said, 'Would you please take me over and introduce me to Dr. Ralph?'" Stanley II remembered. "He was shaking."

Stanley II, who is a fan of Petty's, introduced himself and told the legendary rocker how much he admired his music. "[Petty] said, 'Well ... thank you. But could you please take me over to see Ralph?'" Stanley II continued, garnering a laugh from the crowd.

"Any artist you can think of -- young artists, old artists, some of the biggest artists out there -- they all loved Ralph Stanley and the Stanley Brothers," Stanley II tells The Boot. "Everybody from Tom Petty to Bob Dylan to George Jones to Dolly Parton. The list goes on and on. People like Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs grew up trying to sing like the Stanley Brothers, and that's how they got the job, because they sure could cut it. They got their start with my dad."

Stanley II also shared that one of his father's proudest accomplishments was his induction into the Grand Ole Opry in January of 2000. "A lot of people said that he should have been a member long before that, but I guess it was just another way of the good Lord looking out for him," Stanley II goes on to say. "He was the first ever Grand Ole Opry inductee of the new millennium. So as long as time will stand, he will be remembered as the first person to [enter] the Grand Ole Opry of the millennium."

The Ralph Stanley: Voice From on High exhibit opens to the public on Friday (July 13) and will remain open through Jan. 6, 2019. For more details, go to the Country Music Hall of Fame's official website.

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