As everyone knows, country music has never been highly populated with black performers. Charley Pride has built a long and solid career and is probably the best known, and there have been a few others, including Al Downing and the legendary DeFord Bailey, who was around in the early days of the Grand Ole Opry. But one of the best — Stoney Edwards — is seldom remembered these days.
While growing up in depression-era Oklahoma, young Edwards (whose real first name was either Frenchy or Frenchie, depending on the source) loved country music. He also learned to play several instruments and enjoyed performing in the style of his hero, Western Swing legend Bob Wills, but he didn’t try to make a full-time profession of it until he was in his late thirties. By then he had a family and was living in San Francisco, and a severe job-related back injury in 1968 caused him to look for a better way to make ends meet.
It was a low point for him, but he was cheered up by a gift from his small daughter. Inspired, he wrote “A Two Dollar Toy” while also deciding to give music another try. It was tough at first, but within a couple of years he’d managed to sign a recording contract, and when he recorded his own inspirational song it became his first charted record. But it would be his 1973 introduction of a new song — “She’s My Rock” — that would result in his biggest hit. (Although both George Jones and Brenda Lee* would later have higher-charting versions.)
Stoney Edwards was never be a big star, but he always had his share of fans who appreciated his strong singing voice and authentic honky-tonk style. He continued to entertain and make records through the years, including the classic “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul,” but bad health gradually slowed him down and he eventually stopped performing. He died in 1997 at age 67.
*After changing the song to “He’s My Rock”
Stoney Edwards – “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul” (You can also access music in left column)