Drusilla Adams Smith passed away on December 13, 2015.
Drusilla Adams is best known for her association with Blue Ridge Records. Although it was her father, Noah, who established the label it was Drusilla Smith’s interest in music and her drive that got Blue Ridge Records established as one of the many small, but revered, recording companies that proliferated in the early 1950s. Her enterprise and indefatigable nature were ideal tools for taking on the promotion and A & R duties.
On the sleeve notes for The Church Brothers: The Early Days of Bluegrass Volume 8 sleeve notes (Rounder Records) the Rounder Folk described her as “irrepressibly energetic”.
She was very adept at engaging with wider business contacts, booking the Church Brothers and the Blue Ridge Ramblers into new venues further away from their home base, which was for some time Radio WKBC, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. They also played on radio on another local radio station, WILX.
Additionally, Drusilla Adams penned the lyrics for many of the Church Brothers’ songs, with the band, primarily the elder brother Bill Church, providing the melody and doing the arrangements.
The band recorded An Angel with Blue Eyes, When Jesus calls You Home, No One to Love Me, You’re Still the Rose of My Heart, Broken Vows and A Broken Heart, Way down in Old Caroline, Darling Brown Eyes and Some Else Is Loving You – for four pairings for their Blue Ridge singles – When Jesus calls You Home, A Sweeter Love Than Yours I’ll Never Know, We’ll Meet Up There and I Know My Name Will Be Called Up There.
You’re Still the Rose of My Heart, co-written with Ward Eller, was also recorded by Eller.
An Angel with Blue Eyes was recorded by the Gibson Brothers on their Brotherhood album (Rounder Records).
Walt V Saunders, writing for the sleeve notes on the above-mentioned album, said of her songs, they “were well-written poignant tales usually of lost love; ideally suited to their lonesome archaic style”.
Other significant artists who recorded for Blue Ridge Records included Jim Eanes & the Shenandoah Valley Boys; Larry Richardson and Happy Smith & the Blue Ridge Boys; and Bill Clifton & the Dixie Mountain Boys.
Bluegrass music historian Fred Bartenstein considers Ms Adams very highly, asserting “Drusilla Adams and Louise Scruggs were the pioneer businesswomen of bluegrass”.
Blue Ridge Records was in business for barely seven years, from late 1951 until 1958, when Noah Smith died and the label was sold to Bill Clifton.
Later in life she became very elusive as Clifton and Rounder Records’ Bill Nowlin sought her assistance with a view to doing a compilation album recognising the importance of the Blue Ridge Records’ catalogue.