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 Wade Mainer

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Wade Mainer

Musician. Called the "Grandfather of Bluegrass", he was one of the first performers to take 'mountain music' to the radio and to concert halls. Raised in western North Carolina he learned the banjo from an early age, began playing at local events, and soon joined his brother's group, 'J.E. Miner and the Mountaineers'. He was to make a name playing on WSOC, Gastonia, then with time moved on to the much larger WBT, Charlotte; Mainer's first records were cut in 1934 for RCA's Bluebird label but he was to leave music for the more steady paycheck of a cotton mill. Soon drawn back he formed his own 'Sons of the Mountaineers', had a major hit with 1939's "Sparkling Eye Blues", and was even invited to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, though contract problems prevented his appearance. Continuing to record, Mainer had success with the album "Smokey Mountain Ballads" which contained "John Henry", "Down in the Willow Garden", and similar songs, but was forced to cut back on travel by the gasoline rationing of World War II. In 1942 he was to perform for President Roosevelt at the White House then after the conflict resumed touring. In 1953 he moved to Flint, Michigan, and began a 20 year career with General Motors, around the same time experiencing a religious converson that caused him to quit the music business until his re-emergence as a Christian singer in the 1960s. Mainer made his last disc, "Carolina Mule", in 1993, continued singing well into old age, and in 2002 finally got his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. Designated a National Heritage Fellow by President Reagan in 1987, he received a Michigan Heritage Award in 1996 and in 1998 was named to the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame. At his death from congestive heart failure much of his recorded legacy remained in print.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 15 Sep 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 76530008
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Wade Mainer (21 Apr 1907–12 Sep 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 76530008, citing Crestwood Memorial Gardens, Grand Blanc, Genesee County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .