G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter sang together for only three years during the late '20s and early '30s, but they had a tremendous effect on country music; even contemporary performers continue to cover their songs, which include "Handsome Molly" (recorded by Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger), "Cluck Old Hen," "Tom Dooley," "Rose Conley," and "Lee Highway Blues (Going Down the Lee Highway)." Fiddler/singer Grayson was born in Ashe Country, North Country. As a young man, he made his living as a minstrel, traveling through mountain towns playing at fairs and dances. He eventually settled near the Tennessee-Virginia border, where he played with such noted musicians as Clarence Tom Ashley and Doc Walsh. An excellent fiddler, Grayson was also an exceptional singer, and after teaming up with Whitter, he frequently sang lead vocals on their recordings.
Guitarist/singer Henry Whitter was born in Fries, Virginia; while not an exceptional musician or singer, he was devoted to promoting old-time music and was able to arrange many recording sessions. Whitter and Grayson met at a fiddlers' convention in Mountain City, Tennessee in 1927. They teamed up, and by autumn of that year, Whitter had gotten them two record deals. They recorded eight songs for the Gennett label and six for Victor, among them the classic "Handsome Molly," which sold over 50,000 copies. In total, the two recorded 40 songs in three years. Grayson was killed in an auto accident in August, 1930 while hitchhiking; Whitter was devastated, but continued performing and occasionally recording until his 1941 death from diabetes. ~ Sandra Brennan