Sweet Potato Pie take bluegrass to the White House

The all-girl North Carolina-based bluegrass band, Sweet Potato Pie, entertained for guests of President Trump in The White House last Saturday.

Banjo picker Crystal Richardson explained. “Performing at the White House has been on Sonya’s (Stead) bucket list for years, and when she gets her heart set on something, you can pretty much be sure it is not about ‘if’ it is going to happen, it is only a matter of ‘when’. ”

Stead, founder, leader, and guitarist/vocalist with Sweet Potato Pie submitted the band’s material to The White House in August.

“In October, we were invited to entertain for the ‘Spirit of America’ White House Holiday Open House,” Richardson continued.

A private event, the band entertained guests of the President and First Lady who were invited to tour the White House.

“To say we were completely humbled and honored is an understatement,” the Seagrove, NC banjoist shared. “We performed our Christmas selections, which included holiday standards and original songs written by band leader, Sonya Stead. For three hours, we entertained their special guests who greeted us with warm smiles and even sang along to some of the familiar tunes.”

January will mark the Sweet Potato Pie’s 20th year of performing. Seven years ago, the band added a Christmas tour to their performance schedule.

“To be included in this event was an honor, and now we are more excited than ever to finish up this year with our final Christmas concert on December 17 at the Temple Theater in Sanford, NC,” concluded Richardson.

Sweet Potato Pie band members include: Sonya Stead-guitar (Cary, NC), Crystal Richardson–banjo (Seagrove, NC), Sandy Whitley–bass (Albemarle, NC), Katie Springer-fiddle (Norwood, NC), Tori Jones-fiddle (Linwood, NC), Madeleine Baucom-guitar (Monroe, NC). The group is sponsored in part by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Growers. Their relationship with the agricultural industry provides them with unique opportunities to promote agriculture as they sing their way around the country.

Their music was selected in 2015 for use in elementary classrooms to teach students about North Carolina’s agricultural crops. Sweet Potato Pie’s performance style and music is featured in various high school music curriculums throughout the state.

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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.