A little over 10 years ago, I was a college student at Berea College working on research papers on bluegrass music. It was then that I had my first “big time” interview with the legendary Ralph Stanley. It was right when “O Brother Where Art Thou” movie came out and little did we all knew at the time how successful it would be. The person that helped me set up that interview was James Alan Shelton, Ralph’s guitar player. We formed a friendship and it has always been a pleasure speaking with him over the years. He even went out of his way to have Ralph and all of the band members personalize my cover page of one of my research papers. It is now in a frame.
That interview started a fire inside me to do interviews and continue doing historic research on bluegrass, Appalachian, and country music. By the way, I made an A+ on that paper and presentation. I also used that interview for a couple more papers that also earned me A+.
Today I found out the news that James Alan Shelton has Stage 4 Cancer. Not only that, the doctors said that it has spread and have given him a life expectancy of 18 months to 2 years. He will be having chemo treatments to help slow it down. However, you can’t help but wonder why do bad things happen to good people.
James Alan Shelton and his wife, Greta, are those people that are always willing to lend a hand to others. Now they need our help with thoughts and prayers. The news has been a blow for those in the bluegrass music community. Some things we don’t understand the answers to the questions. However, we can do good deeds for others while we can.
Keep James and his family in your prayers.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.