Kristi Stanley Releases Debut Album 'Heart Wide Open'
Kristi Stanley is part of a world-famous family long associated with traditional bluegrass music, but her debut album, "Heart Wide Open" (Union House Records), has an unmistakable country flavor. That should come as no surprise, considering the artist's upbringing in Pikeville, Kentucky, an area rich in both musical genres, and just a few miles from Clinch Mountain, Virginia, where the Stanley Brothers and her future husband, Ralph Stanley II, resided.
"Heart Wide Open" is comprised of 12 tracks, sweetly sung by Stanley, backed by her band, Running Blind. The musicians are first-rate: Austin Brown on acoustic bass, rhythm and lead guitar; Nick Goad on mandolin; Rod Smith on banjo and resonator guitar; Adam Haynes on fiddle; Travis Houck on resonator guitar; Jeff Brown on rhythm guitar; and Mike Bentley on rhythm guitar. Guest vocalists on the album include Grammy-winner Marty Raybon (Shenandoah), Wayne Taylor (Blue Highway), Rod Smith (Kevin Prater Band) and IBMA Award-nominee Alecia Nugent.
"I really enjoyed being a part of this project with Kristi," Nugent said. "What a great singer, and a great choice of songs too. Always an honor to be a part of something so good."
Born Kristi Ison, she spent hours as a young girl singing along to Dolly Parton records and dreaming of following in her idol's footsteps. At age 15, she performed on a radio show called "Home Spun Country," where the host, musician Tim Michaels, was so impressed that he formed a band with her, called Sandy River, later opening for several national acts including Kenny Chesney, Billy Ray Cyrus and Ricochet.
It was during a vacation with her family to Nashville that Kristi met Ralph Stanley II, while he was performing with his father, the late Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Two years later, Kristi married the younger Stanley and put her musical career on hold to raise the couple's two children, Taylor and Ralph Stanley III.
Now that the children have grown older, Kristi felt the time had come to begin performing again. She formed Running Blind, and for the past year has been attracting attention in the industry.
Watch a performance of Kristi's below:
"In the music business, as in life, you never know what may happen, but as long as I can continue doing what I love, I will be happy," she said. "Hopefully, I will be given the opportunity to show that it is possible to love and take care of your family as a first priority, and pursue a career in the music with integrity, dignity and class at the same time."
Kristi Stanley will celebrate the release of her album "Heart Wide Open" at The Pickin' Porch Show at the Mountain Music Museum, 316 Broad Street, Kingsport, Tennessee, on Saturday, June 2, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at https://squareup.com/store/pickinporchshow.