Bluegrass music patriarch Ralph Stanley dies at 89

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Dr. Ralph Stanley performs at a campaign event for former Sen. John Edwards at the University of South Carolina - Lancaster January 23, 2008 in Lancaster, South Carolina. South Carolina holds its Democratic primary this Saturday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Appalachian music patriarch Ralph Stanley, who helped expand and popularize the bluegrass sound, has died. He was 89.

His publicist, Kirt Webster, says Stanley died Thursday.

Stanley was born and raised in southwest Virginia. He and brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. The brothers fused Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe’s rapid rhythms with the mountain folk of groups such as the Carter Family, and added a distinctive three-part harmony. CarterStanley died of liver disease in 1966.

Ralph Stanley’s a cappella dirge “O Death” from the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” movie soundtrack introduced him to a new generation of fans in 2000.

He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000 and won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 2002.

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