Distinguished Achievement Award for Early Dobro Pioneer Oswald Kirby!

Image635749805094637587A well deserved Distinguished Achievement Award will be presented to the late Bashful Brother Oswald Kirby, who helped introduce music fans to the Dobro when he joined Roy Acuff's  band in the late 1930s.

The award will be presented posthumously on October 1st. at the 2015 IBMA convention during a special awards luncheon prior to the annual awards held later in the evening.
Though he released only a few recordings as a solo artist, he played as a session musician on numerous records, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1972 triple album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Oswald began his career as a solo artist and session musician in the 1960s.
He released his self-titled debut album in 1962 on Starday Records. He joined the Rounder Records label in the 1970s, releasing around a half dozen albums over the years until his last recording, CARRY ME BACK, in 1999.

His session work included working with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN, an album that paid tribute to the old-time, traditional country musicians of Nashville, Tennessee, and also featured Acuff, Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis and others.

Solo tracks by Kirby on CIRCLE include "The End of the World" and his own composition, "Sailin' to Hawaii".

Oswald was also present for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's follow-up album, WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN: Volume Two in 1989, singing backing vocals on the title track.

Oswald was the sole member of the 1939 Smoky Mountain Boys that still accompanied Acuff at the time of Acuff's death in 1992. With former Smoky Mountain Boys bandmate Charlie Collins, Oswald formed the musical comedy duo "Os and Charlie", which was a fixture at the Opryland theme park and on the Grand Ole Opry.

In the late 1920s, Kirby followed the path of many people from the Appalachian region and moved to the northern United States to find work. In Flint, Michigan he worked on the Buick assembly line only to lose the job in the economic downturn of the 1930's Great Depression.

Kirby then returned to music, playing at informal square dance parties held in the homes of other transplanted southerners. It was at one such party that Kirby met a Hawaiian guitarist named Rudy Waikiki.

"That was when I first heard someone play something like my style. He was a real Hawaiian boy, from over in the islands, and he was playing this way and I loved it. I'd go to them parties just to watch him play," Kirby said. "Then I'd go home and get my guitar and try to do the same thing. I was just playing a straight guitar and I had to raise the strings up, put a nut under the strings."

With the music of Hawaii, gaining in popularity, Kirby bought his first resonator guitar, an early National model, and joined in the trend, playing in bars, cafes and beer gardens. He visited the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, playing in clubs and gained a following.

Oswald died on October 17, 2002, at his home in Madison, Tennessee, at the age of 90.

Here is a later recording of Brother Oswald  at the Bluegrass Family Reunion.

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