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The Osborne Brothers

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The first known public appearance of the Osborne Brothers was in 1951. They joined the cast at WCYB Bristol, Virginia, to perform on a program called “Farm and Fun Time”, along with other Bluegrass bands, such as, The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Carl Story and his Rambling Mountainers. Other members of “Farm and Fun Time” included, Jim & Jesse, Little Robert Van Winkle, Curly King and the Tennessee Hilltoppers, and country recording artist Red Kirk. The live program aired five days a week, Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm on WCYB Radio, and covered five states.

Upon their breakout into the bluegrass scene, the Osborne Brothers quickly became noted for their virtuosic instrumentation and tight, melodic vocal harmonies. Their first country chart appearance was “Once More”, a 1958 trio with Red Allen, with a then-novel inverted stacked harmony: Bobby singing the lead line highest, then Sonny singing baritone, and finally the third singer (in this case Red Allen) singing the tenor as the lowest part. This placed Bobby’s distinctive voice as the lead, and made the third voice a somewhat interchangeable part. As a result, the brothers could hire a series of guitarist/singers without changing their overall sound. This “high lead” vocal trio became their signature sound, used to great effect in the country market, with songs like “Blame Me”, “Sweethearts Again”, and a remake of the Carter Family’s “Fair and Tender Ladies”.

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