Born and raised in Pikeville, KY, Kristi Ison Stanley was brought up among a rich history of bluegrass and country music, immortalized along the famous Country Music Highway. From her upstairs bedroom, Kristi recalls spending hours singing along with the legendary Dolly Parton and dreaming of becoming a big star. She recorded her own renditions of Dolly’s songs, singing them over and over again until every note was perfect and then garnered the nerve to let her parents listen in. It was her Mom that convinced Kristi that she was good enough to consider singing for a bigger audience.
At 15, Kristi performed on the live radio show, Home Spun Country. The DJ, Tim Michaels, a musician as well, was quite impressed with her talent. It wasn’t long before Tim and Kristi formed the band Sandy River, opening for National acts like Kenny Chesney, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Ricochet. Kristi continued to perform with her band throughout high school at music festivals, weddings, talent shows and radio stations, as well as the VA/KY Opry and The Mountain Arts Center.
The highlight of her career came when she was asked by Dr. Ralph Stanley to be a part of the Grammy nominated album “Clinch Mountain Sweethearts”. She joined not only her hero, Dolly Parton, but other stars including Pam Tillis, Sara Evans and Chely Wright on the project. Kristi, just 18 years old, sang “I’ll Never Grow Tired of You” with the bluegrass legend himself, and was both honored and humbled by the experience.
“There are people that go through their entire career and not have the opportunity to meet, much less record with, a true icon like Dr. Ralph Stanley!” ~Kristi
Kristi met her husband, Ralph Stanley II, while on vacation with her family in Nashville, sitting in at a taping of Prime Time Nashville, with then host Gary Chapman. Ralph II spotted Kristi in the audience while performing onstage with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and they later met at the meet and greet following the show. Two years later, the couple were married and they now have two beautiful children Taylor Stanley and Ralph Stanley III. While staying home full time with her family has been a blessing, Kristi feels it’s time to start performing again and has already entered the studio to start working on an exciting new album.
“In the music business, as in life, you never know what may happen, but as long
as I can continue doing what I love, I will be happy. Hopefully, I will be given the
opportunity to showcase, as many others before me, that it is possible to love and take care of your family as a first priority, and pursue a career in the music with integrity, dignity and class a the same time”. ~Kristi