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Bluegrass Pioneer Curly Seckler Celebrates 95th Birthday

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Curly Seckler 95th BirthdayBluegrass pioneer Curly Seckler celebrated his 95th birthday on December 25, 2014. Seckler was born on Christmas day in 1919, in China Grove, North Carolina. He began his musical career in 1935, in a band with his brothers, Marvin on guitar, George on fiddle, and Duard ("Lucky") on guitar. Curly played the tenor banjo. They called themselves the Yodeling Rangers (later changed to the Trail Riders). In 1939, they landed a daily radio show on the new station in Salisbury, WSTP. Later that year, Curly was recruited by Charlie Monroe to be the tenor singer for his new group, the Kentucky Partners. They appeared on the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, WV and on WHAS in Louisville, KY.

In the 1940s, Curly worked with Tommy Scott, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, and others. In 1949, he joined Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys, and remained with them for the next dozen years, with a couple of brief absences, including stints with the Sauceman Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, and again with Jim & Jesse.

Seckler is best known for his work with the Foggy Mountain Boys, during which he recorded well over 100 songs with them, including most of their best know classics. His instantly recognizable tenor vocal harmony was the perfect match to Lester Flatt's distinctive lead singing. Their duets on favorites such as "Some Old Day," "What's Good For You," and Seckler's original, "That Old Book Of Mine," set the standard for generations of bluegrass singers that followed them. Today, Seckler is generally recognized as one of the greatest and most influential tenor singers in bluegrass music. Though he essentially ceased playing mandolin solos once Dobro player Josh Graves joined the Foggy Mountain Boys, Curly is heralded for his rhythm "chop," which added drive and power to the band's sound.

Curly left Flatt & Scruggs in 1962 to work in the trucking business, but returned to the bluegrass scene a few years later. He recorded his first solo album in 1971 for County Records. In 1973, he joined Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. Following Flatt's death in 1979, Curly assumed leadership of the band until his semi-retirement in 1994. In 1996, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the IBMA, and in 2004 he was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame. That same year he made a collection of new recordings which were released on Copper Creek Records. His "Down in Caroline" album was a finalist for Recorded Event of the Year, and his "Bluegrass, Don't You Know" release was named one of the Top 10 Albums of 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. Seckler returned to performing at a handful of festivals and theaters each year, and appeared on "Song of the Mountains" on PBS and The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV.

In 2010, Seckler celebrated his 75th anniversary in music, and was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was inducted into the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Curly gave his last public performance in 2012, and made his last recordings with Larry Sparks in December of 2013.

Though he has slowed down in recent years due to health issues, Curly still enjoys listing to music. He was joined by many musical friends and family in a 95th birthday celebration at the assisted living facility where he and his wife Eloise now reside. He appreciates all of the birthday greetings he has received via Facebook from fan around the world and sends his best wishes to all.

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