4

Lonesome Onry and Mean: Stoney Edwards, Another Lost African-American Country Singer

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

In our previous story regarding black artists who took the country music route, we omitted a huge talent who, though he never achieved Charley Pride's level of commercial success, was a respected artist among those in the know in Nashville. Stoney Edwards was a farm boy from Oklahoma who eventually moved to California when federal agents cracked down on his family's moonshine operation. After working odd jobs and spending two years recuperating from carbon dioxide poisoning suffered when he was accidentally locked in a tank car he was cleaning, he was snapped up by Capitol Records as an answer to RCA's Pride, whose startling success indicated that the country music audience would accept a black performer. Edwards was discovered by lawyer Ray Sweeney at a Bob Wills benefit show in 1970, and Sweeney convinced Capitol to sign Edwards. They immediately released Edwards' "Two Dollar Toy," which became a minor hit.

Edwards struck real paydirt with "She's The Rock That I Lean On," which moved into the

Billboard

Top 20 and was later covered by George Jones. Edwards' cover of Jesse Winchester's "Mississippi You're On My Mind" also entered the Top 20 in 1975, and he had a minor hit with his honky tonk song, "Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul."

As a response to a racial epithet thrown at him by his hero Lefty Frizzell, Edwards wrote and recorded "Blackbird (Hold Your Head High)" in 1976. The ensuing controversy effectively stalled his career and he parted ways with Capitol. Edwards would go on to record for several small labels until the early '80s, when health issues required that he give up the music business. Edwards returned to his family farm outside Seminole, Oklahoma, and died of stomach cancer in 1997. The following year, the Razor and Tie label issued

Poor Folks Stick Together: The Best of Stoney Edwards

. Come back soon when LOM covers another great black country music artist, Al Downing.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.