Staunton Public Library to host play about Carter Stanley

The Staunton Public Library is hosting a performance of a one-man play called A Life of Sorrow, the Life and Times of Carter Stanley on March 8 at 7 p.m.

Carter Stanley was an expressive singer and songwriter. As the front man for the legendary Stanley Brothers duo, he spent the best 20 years of his life pounding the pavement to take his gift to the public. Raised in the coalfields of Appalachia during the hardscrabble days of the Great Depression, his musical expression of choice was a new phenomenon known to many as the high lonesome sound—what would come to be known the world over as bluegrass. He played the music, he wrote the songs, and ultimately, he self-destructed. A Life of Sorrow is the story of one man’s musical journey from the Clinch Mountains of Virginia, around the world, and back home again.

A Life of Sorrow is the creation of Roanoke actor Gary Reid. A bluegrass enthusiast and historian for more than 40 years, he is regarded as the foremost authority on the music of the Stanley Brothers. In 2009, Reid conceived the idea of putting together a oneman show about Carter Stanley. To that end, he took two semesters of acting at Virginia Western Community College and has since appeared in more than 60 productions and events at regional community theaters as an actor, producer, and stage manager and has appeared in several short films and commercials. He was a second place finalist at the 2015 Sounds of the Mountains storytelling competition in Fincastle.

Launched in September 2014, A Life of Sorrow has enjoyed 43 performances at theaters, festivals, libraries, and museums in 10 different states.

As a long-time fan of the music of Carter and Ralph Stanley, Reid has spent years collecting memorabilia of the brothers and has all of their single and album releases as well as some 80 hours of live recordings and close to 500 photos. He has also published the book The Music of the Stanley Brothers which traces Carter and Ralph Stanley’s prolific 20-year recording history.

For more information about the performance, contact the Library at 540.332.3902 or visit