The Mount Airy-based Easter Brothers played traditional gospel music with overtones of country and bluegrass instrumentation. They performed for more than four decades. With more than 150 recordings, numerous awards, and many performances, including at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Sydney Opera House, the Easter Brothers are recognized as one of the legendary groups from Surry County.
The band started in the mid-1950s with brothers Russell on banjo, James on guitar, and Edd on mandolin. They started on WBTM in Danville, Virginia, developed a fan base, and made several recordings. In the early 1960s, they worked some radio shows with Red Smiley and Don Reno. They also did a regular radio program at WPAQ in Mount Airy. In 1979, the band began performing full-time, and the brothers gave up their daily jobs to devote their attention to music.
The Easter Brothers wrote many songs that have become gospel standards, including “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me,” “The Darkest Hour,” and “They’re Holding Up the Ladder.” They have recorded with several major record labels, including King Records, QCA, Lifeline Records, Rebel, County, and finally their own Commandment label. The Easter Brothers have played at venues all over the region, and they have appeared on television programs such as PTL shows, Sing Out America, Huff Cook, Leonard Repass, Camp Meeting USA, and more.
Russell, James, and Edd continued to play with the group, which also included Russell, Jr., on banjo and Russell, Sr.’s grandson Jared on bass in later years. Multi-instrumentalist Russell, Jr., played with the group for more than 20 years, and he was been a prolific studio musician, playing on more than 3,000 gospel albums with groups such as the Primitives, the Inspirations, Squire Parsons, the Goodmans, the Nelons, the Talleys.
Edd Easter passed away on January 30, 2019 at the age of 84. Russell Easter passed away on September 29, 2020 at the age of 90.