Del McCoury Highway dedicated in NC

This past Saturday (October 26, 2013) was a red letter day for Del McCoury First he had a road named after him and then that evening, he celebrated the 10th anniversary of his membership in the Grand Ole Opry, his induction having taken place on October 25, 2003.

McCoury had a five-mile stretch of North Carolina Highway 261 in Mitchell County named after him, the section of road from Bakersville city limits north to old Glen Ayre school, remembering a childhood connection that he has with the area.

The honor came from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, which collaborated with counties in western North Carolina and the North Carolina Arts Council to develop the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina.

A ceremony to celebrate the occasion took place at Lavonia Crest, north of Bakersville where North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory made the presentation. That was followed by a musical performance by the Del McCoury Band.

“Del McCoury’s name is synonymous with bluegrass [music],” Angie Chandler, executive director of Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, said in advance of the event.

She went on to say …..

“Our mountains and foothills have a national reputation as a music-rich region, and our traditions of old-time string band music, ballad singing, and bluegrass are internationally renowned.

No other area of the country has had more impact on the development of the banjo as a bluegrass instrument than here in western North Carolina. Del McCoury has exemplified that musical heritage through his 50-year career, his ability to appeal to younger and older audiences, and his innovation of various musical styles.”

Mitchell County Chamber Director Shirley Hise added …

“Del McCoury has deep roots in western North Carolina. He is related to a lot of folks here. He is one of the most accomplished and renowned bluegrass musicians in the United States.”

McCoury was born in York, Pennsylvania, and never lived in Mitchell County, North Carolina, but both his parents and his wife’s parents are from that part of the state. His father’s family was from Glen Ayre and his mother’s family was from Buladean.

McCoury, who wished that his father was alive to see the highway become named after him, said he has a National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, is in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and is a frequent IBMA Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, but this is something more. “It is a great honor to have a road named after you. That stands forever.”

He traces his musical heritage back to his family. He remembers a tale about his mom’s father playing fiddle at the Cloudland Hotel, which was located at the top of Roan Mountain, and said that the lore is part of his family heritage. “I’ve heard my kin folks talk about all those things.”

Del’s management put together this video of the presentation.


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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.