April 16, 1938 – June 15, 2018 Remembering Delia Bell

Remembering Delia Bell (April 16, 1938 – June 15, 2018) (nee Delia Nowell) was born in Bonham, Texas and helped to preserve the singing styles of the American West. In 1959 she married Bobby Bell, who had among his friends Bill Grant. That same year Delia Bell and Bill Grant, Oklahoma’s “grand old man of bluegrass,” began to sing together, having met at a jam session, and soon they were regulars on the Little Dixie Hayride radio show on KIHN in Hugo, although, according to Bell, for years they just entertained friends predominantly. In 1965 Grant began to play the mandolin. The next phase came when the Grant family, inspired by their visits to Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, decided to start their own festival, the Salt Creek Bluegrass Festival, on their ranch in Hugo. The first Salt Creek festival took place in August 1969 and Bill Grant and Delia Bell were on-stage hosts. The Grants continued their Salt Creek festival and in 1987 Delia Bell joined Bill Grant in promoting a March Early Bird Bluegrass Show, an event that would last nearly 20 years. This longevity exemplified their partnership, which in various forms lasted from 1959 to 2006, when health problems caused the duo to slow down and finish singing together in May of that year. Delia Bell is now retired from performing according to Bill.

About the author

I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie

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