Earl Scruggs is noted for perfecting and popularizing a three-finger banjo-picking style (now called “Scruggs style”) that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music.
The rich music heritage of Cleveland County stems from European and African traditions that include strains of country, bluegrass, blues and gospel. These deeply rooted music traditions resonated from front porches, country stores, textile mills and villages, family reunions, church sanctuaries and annual festivals and continue today.
Two native musicians and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees have brought international attention to Cleveland County.
Earl Scruggs, from the nearby Flint Hill community, pioneered and popularized a three-finger banjo picking style that helped create the distinctive bluegrass sound in the mid-1940s. Earl’s “Scruggs style” banjo playing set the standard for all bluegrass banjo players.
Don Gibson, country music singer-songwriter from Shelby, helped to shape the new Nashville sound in the late 1950s. Known as “The Sad Poet,” Gibson penned the country music standards “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Oh Lonesome Me.”
The Earl Scruggs Center and the Don Gibson Theatre, just a couple of blocks apart, give visitors the opportunity to understand and celebrate the contributions these two native sons made to American music.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a program of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.