Jeanie Stanley

Baby Girl: A Tribute to My Father, Carter Stanley

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Bluegrass musician Carter Stanley died on December 1, 1966, at the age of 41. His youngest child, Jeanie Stanley, was four years old at the time. Nearly 39 years later, this album presents that daughter's tribute to a father she barely knew and has come to appreciate mainly for his music. But, even though Jeanie Stanley was the motivating factor in getting the album made, it should not be understood as a solo recording, even if her name is on the cover. That cover also contains the words "Featuring: Ralph Stanley, Ralph Stanley II [Ralph Stanley's son], Carter Stanley," and it might better have been billed to the Stanley family rather than to Jeanie Stanley. In fact, there are several selections on the album, beginning with the leadoff track and title song (which Carter Stanley wrote for his older daughter, Doris Stanley) on which Jeanie Stanley does not appear at all. She does take over lead vocals on the second track, "Who Will Sing for Me," and she is heard afterwards on lead and harmony vocals. But the album is really the work of a team of musicians and singers also including Joe Isaacs, Stacy York, and John Rigsby. The only person who gets solo vocal tracks is Ralph Stanley, Carter Stanley's brother and partner in the Stanley Brothers, who sings "Train 45" and one of two previously unreleased Carter Stanley songs, "Jesus Is Precious," which he renders a cappella. (Like the other new song, "Two Sides to a Story," "Jesus Is Precious" is a Carter Stanley lyric with newly written music by Joe Isaacs.) Carter Stanley himself even turns up at the end singing "Dream of a Miner's Child," and, in yet another example of posthumous overdubbing, Jeanie Stanley joins him. (Whether it's Natalie Cole or Arlo Guthrie, the children of the famous never seem to be fazed by the ghoulish nature of such duets.) Carter Stanley's music is rendered faithfully, alternating between reverent statements appropriate to Sunday morning and more secular ones drawn from the experiences of Saturday night. The album is not likely to signal a belated professional career for Jeanie Stanley, but it is a family's sincere appreciation of their fallen father, brother, and uncle, and it should have a place in any Stanley collection. (The unlisted tracks 15 and 16 contain a spoken dedication from Jeanie Stanley to her father and an enthusiastic exclamation from Ralph Stanley.)

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