Shanachie Entertainment has great news for lovers of early bluegrass and country music. The Legacy of John & Frances Reedy is expected in September, a 2-CD set of recordings from this husband-and-wife duo from eastern Kentucky whose music served as an important influence on artists like The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, and others.
The Reedys sang and performed together from 1936 when they married in Harlan County, KY and were featured for nearly two decades on WHLN radio near their home. The couple didn’t make their first record until the late ’40s, but their cut of Somebody Touched Me, for which John has the writer’s credit, generated a great deal of attention when it was released in 1949. The song has since been played and often recorded by bluegrass artists like Carl Story, The Stanley Brothers, Red Smiley, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, and many more.
Before he passed, Ralph Stanley had often remarked that he learned Oh Death listening to John & Frances Reedy. Their catalog in the 1950s and ’60s was influential in establishing a standard for bluegrass Gospel music, supported by The Stone Mountain Hillbillys with brothers Glenn and Julian Ramey on mandolin and banjo.
The Reedys moved from Kentucky to Dayton, OH during the migration covered in the book, Industrial Strength Bluegrass, and are mentioned by the authors. There they recorded for Starday Records, and legend has it that John and Frances recorded Somebody Touched Me on the same day as The Stanley’s tracked White Dove, but in another part of town.
Shanachie has agreed to share several tracks from The Legacy of John & Frances Reedy with Bluegrass Today readers, certain that they will be as enthralled with these remastered recordings as we are. They include the aforementioned Oh Death and Somebody Touched Me, along with Driftwood.
The Legacy of John & Frances Reedy is set for release September 2 with a 20-page booklet with track information and rare photographs. Pre-orders are available online from a number of popular music resellers.