Julia Mainer passes 

Julia Mainer - photo by Darwin DavidsonJulia Mainer, wife and long-time musical partner of old-time country music artist  the late Wade Mainer, passed away on January 21, 2015, aged 95. She had sustained fatal injuries in a fall a few days earlier.

Julia Mae Brown Mainer was born on March 13, 1919, and she married Wade Mainer late in 1937,  shortly after he formed his own band.

She was a magnificent singer and guitarist popularly know at the time as Hillbilly Lilly. As a teenager she had performed from 1935 until 1937 at WSJS Radio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Julia Mainer is considered to be a pioneering female musical artist

A deeply religious woman, Julia Mainer specialized in Gospel songs. In addition to her solo work, she served as Wade Mainer’s guitarist in concerts and on records for about 40 years. She also sang harmony with him.

Dick Spottswood with Julia and Wade MainerDuring the early 1950s, Wade and Julia Mainer gave up musical entertainment, singing only in religious services. Persuaded years later that the banjo and Gospel music were compatible, they returned to public performance and by 1961 the duo had begun to record again.

After Wade Mainer’s retirement in 1973, he and Julia began to perform at bluegrass festivals, concentrating on mountain Gospel music with an occasional old and rare secular piece.

Here the duo perform Lights in the Valley:


The two were recognized in 1996 with the presentation of a Michigan Heritage award.

Wade Mainer passed away on September 12, 2011.

We hope to have a Julia Mainer appreciation in due course.

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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.