Sweet Potato Pie announces personnel changes

The long running North Carolina female band sensation, Sweet Potato Pie, welcomes new band mate, Jaime Carter, and featured artist, Kevin Richardson (banjo player Crystal Richardson’s husband), to their fold. Best known for their distinct harmonies and diverse musical repertoire, SPP will maintain their trademark sound while evolving their show. Sonya Stead, who formed the band in 2000, has spent 15 years with Crystal developing and expanding their “sweetgrass” style for bluegrass, country, and gospel music markets.

Sonya explained Sweet Potato Pie’s mission. “Every player that comes (into the band) has brought their own special flavor. My job is to take that talent to create a sound the audience will enjoy.”

Crystal readily agreed. “I love the (current) configuration and excited for people to hear us.”

Carter from Spartanburg, SC, joins the female ensemble as bass player and vocalist. She attended East Tennessee State University to study Bluegrass, Old time & Country Music, with a concentration in Bass. While a student, she toured nationally and internationally with the ETSU Bluegrass Band and The Roys. Following graduation, she returned to South Carolina where she has been performing with various bands and playing R&B, pop, country, and traditional roots music. Carter’s versatility and precision playing offers a strong underpinning for the Pie’s dynamic picking.

Sonya Stead shared, “Jaime adds a lot of depth and fits in well. She has a smorgasbord of music she enjoys and brings a lot of that to the band.”

For her part, Carter said, “I was beyond excited when I received the call to join Sweet Potato Pie. Through my past experiences, I have come to realize that the best bands are those that allow members to express their creativity through the music that is played. Sweet Potato Pie doesn’t fit into a particular genre, they are the genre. They welcome imaginative styles of playing to produce their unique sound and I’m thrilled to be part of the band’s future.”

After years of performing with Sweet Potato Pie on special occasions, Richardson will now tour with the band as a featured musician. Performing professionally since 2000 with many top bands like Lou Reid and Carolina, The Larry Stephenson Band, and Merle Monroe, along with his own group Kevin Richardson and Cuttin’ Edge, the seasoned musician brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the band. Recognized in the industry for his dynamic Tony Rice style of guitar picking, his smooth velvety vocals blend with SPP’s harmonies capitalizing on their signature sound. 

Kevin said, “Figuratively speaking, Sweet Potato Pie has been a part of my family and my life for over 15 years, and although I have filled in as a special guest with them on many occasions, it was a definite ‘Yes’ when the opportunity came for me to join them. 

“SPP has been together for 22 years running! The longevity alone speaks volumes! Their ability to create and push the music to different places while staying true to their own sound is what is really special about them. Our chemistry together, on and off stage, is something special and the timing was right to make this move. Sonya is a great songwriter, musician, and business woman whom I have the utmost respect for, and being able to share the stage with my wife is an added bonus! When Sonya approached me with the idea, it was just a no-brainer! SPP has the ‘It’ factor and I couldn’t be happier about the direction we are headed.”

Their fall tour kicks off on August 19, 2022, in Pittsboro, NC at the Mosaic in Chatham Park. Visit them online to see their complete schedule.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.