Heart Wide Open

Kristi Stanley might have married into “Bluegrass royalty” but that certainly doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a voice and style all her own. Kristi is married to Ralph Stanley II, son of bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley. Ralph has recently taken over his father’s band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, and leadership of the annual home town festival, Hills Of Home, which turns 50 next May (2020).

Kristi was raised in Pikeville, Kentucky and remembers distinctly spending hours singing along with her Country music idol, Dolly Parton, on the radio, while dreaming of one day becoming a music star herself. “Country music was embedded into my heart, mind, and soul at a young age,” Kristi said. “Dolly’s voice just did something to me. And I always joke and say I want to be her when I grow up. She’s everything I think a lot of artists aspire to be.”

Kristi’s mom encouraged her to appear on a radio show when she was 15. DJ Tim Michaels was so impressed that he and Kristi soon after formed a bluegrass band, which opened up the world of music for Kristi – leading Dr. Ralph Stanley to invite her to sing on a duet record when she was 18 – a record that also featured her idol, Dolly Parton.

Kristi and Ralph II were married not long after that, and soon started a family. “We had two kids and my music just got put on the back burner,” Kristi recalls. “I thought I might not ever play again, and had come to terms with it. But I missed it greatly.”

And at 37, an opportunity arose for her to be signed to a new bluegrass label that was forming, and work on a new CD. “The timing was right and the opportunity came about,” she said.

The result is her debut CD, Heart Wide Open, and an exciting season on the road with her new band, Running Blind. “I’m in it full time and loving every minute of if,” Kristi said.
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