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In tribute to one of the last of the early pioneers of bluegrass — and one of its most soulful singers — here’s Ralph Stanley, who died Thursday at 89, performing the haunting Appalachian ballad “O Death.”

In another performance of this song, during the 44th Annual Grammy Awards broadcast in 2002, Stanley pulled off one of the most moving moments ever at a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences event when he sang the a cappella classic to utter silence in the midst of a rousing celebration of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.


It’s a profound understatement to say that Ralph Stanley will be missed. — Mark Kemp