Yesterday (January 10), bluegrass living legend Bobby Osborne accepted a Governor’s Award for the Arts from Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear.
Now 91 years of age and still actively performing, Bobby and his younger brother, Sonny, set bluegrass on a new track starting in the 1950s as the Osborne Brothers, with a different style of harmony singing featuring his distinctly pure tenor voice on top.
Hits for the Osborne Brothers include such classics as Once More, Ruby Are You Mad, Making Plans, Up This Hill and Down, Windy City, Midnight Flyer, Tennessee Hound Dog, and surely their most enduring song, sometimes described as the “National Anthem of Bluegrass,” Rocky Top.
Prior to forming The Osborne Brothers, Bobby has been a member of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.
When Sonny and Bobby started out together, they recorded as a trio with Jimmy Martin, and later Red Allen, partnerships that didn’t last, partly because of their insistence that the Brothers receive top billing. It ended up being the right move, and The Osborne Brothers became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1964.
When Sonny retired owing to a shoulder injury in 2005, Bobby continued to tour and record with his own band, Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top XPress.
Though most of his musical career found them living in Nashville, both Sonny and Bobby have always claimed the southeastern Kentucky town of Hyden as their hometown.
In accepting the National Award for the 2022 Kentucky Governor’s Awards for the Arts, Bobby said…
“I thank you all. I thank everybody for this chance to come and receive this award. I think I’ve been halfway around the world. Not all of it, but… Other than my military duty that I served, other than that, I have devoted my life to bluegrass music, country music, any kind of music.
I don’t know… When I was a teenager I learned how to play, and other than my military duty, I couldn’t see me working with anything else, especially bluegrass music. Bluegrass is Kentucky, and that’s all there are to it.
Bluegrass music… that’s what I’ve been playing all these years.
I am certainly thankful to everyone for inviting me to receive this award. Thank you very much.”
Congratulations to Bobby Osborne for this well-deserved recognition from his home state.