The Mount Airy-based Easter Brothers play traditional gospel music with overtones of country and bluegrass instrumentation. They have been performing 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 Ed 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 have written 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 Ed continue to play with the group, which today also includes Russell, Jr., on banjo and Russell, Sr.’s grandson Jared on bass. Multi-instrumentalist Russell, Jr., has been playing with the group for more than 20 years, and he has 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.
The Easter Brothers are available for performances.