John Ray Sechler, known as Curly Seckler, (December 25, 1919 – December 27, 2017) was an American bluegrass singer, guitarist, mandolin and banjo player and composer.
Born to Carrie and Calvin Sechler in China Grove, North Carolina, on December 25, 1919, "Curly" was destined to have a huge contribution on Bluegrass music. In his youth and formative years, Seckler learned to play music from his parents. His father, Calvin, played old time fiddle, harmonica, and autoharp, while his mother taught him how to play the organ. Seckler like most of his local contemporaries, was forced into a life of labor, tirelessly working in a local cotton mill for sustenance with his brothers. However, this laborious sentencing did not retard his musical development, Seckler found time to keep up his love for music, expanding his musical knowledge by picking up the five string banjo. Seckler began learning the instrument from local musician, Happy Trexler.
In the early years of his professional career, Seckler accompanied his brothers George and Duard, playing the tenor banjo and providing vocal harmonies. The group was called the Yodeling Rangers and they jettisoned to local stardom in 1935, when they were invited to perform daily on the radio in Salisbury, North Carolina. With a fresh new name, the Trail Riders, soon began playing steadily throughout the south-eastern US. Soon the word got around, the Trail Riders had some of the finest musicians around and this notoriety caught the eye of Charlie Monroe, brother of Bill Monroe, and former guitarist of the acclaimed Monroe Brothers. After their breakup, Charlie was looking for new musicians to play with on the emerging Bluegrass circuit. He proposed that Seckler join him on tour. The nineteen-year-old agreed and received twenty dollars a week. Seckler continued to enjoy success on the Bluegrass touring circuit and in 1949 joined Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the rest of the Foggy Mountain Boys band. In this new ensemble, Seckler continued to sing tenor harmonies, but switched to the mandolin. During this time, he developed the "Chop" rhythm technique which helped to propel the rhythm section of The Foggy Mountain Boys sound. Seckler stayed with the Foggy Mountain Boys until 1962. Upon Lester Flatt's death in 1979, Seckler returned to Bluegrass as leader of the Nashville Grass band. Seckler held this position until his retirement in 1994 ( Seckler AP).
The International Bluegrass Music Association honored Seckler in 2004 by inducting him into its International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame; Seckler was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010. His release of "Sixty Years of Bluegrass with My Friends" in 2005 on the Copper Creek label solidified Seckler's place as one of the pioneers of the genre and steward of customs and traditions. Throughout his career, Seckler played with Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, the Stanley Brothers, the Nashville Grass, Doyle Lawson, and many others.
Seckler died on December 27, 2017, just two days after his 98th birthday.
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