Ola Belle Reed was born August 16, 1916 in a humble setting along the New River Valley of North Carolina.  Due to the depression her family was forced to move to Chester County, PA where jobs were more available.  Influenced by her family, she formed one of the first “hillbilly” bands, The North Carolina Ridge Runners,  in the Delaware-Maryland area.  She and her brother formed The New River Boys until he retired.  After that she continued performing, joined by her husband and son.   Additionally, she wrote or co-wrote over 200 songs still heard today.

Ola Belle Reed

Singer, songwriter, country music pioneer and tradition bearer, Ola Belle Reed was born August 16, 1916 in a humble setting along the New River Valley of North Carolina. Born Ola Wave Campbell in Lansing, North Carolina, she learned how to sing old-time ballads as a young child and developed a unique banjo style.

Early in her musical career, Ola Belle realized that she loved traditional music and began writing her own songs to accompany her playing.  Ola Belle set in motion recording her songs with brother Alec for Starday Records, Rounder Records and Smithsonian Folkways. Her son David, an excellent bluegrass picker and singer, can be heard on some of the recordings, along with husband Bud, who plays rhythm guitar and yodels. She toured and performed with her brother Alec Campbell, and eventually with her husband, Bud Reed.  Together they created a music venue, The New River Ranch, where all of the country music greats like Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells and Bill Monroe, performed.

Over the years her remarkable talents were recognized with many awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1986, The IBMA, Appalshops excellent series on women in old-time music and the Southern Songbirds.  Many bluegrass musicians recognize their own success from the influence of Ola Belle's music like Del McCoury when he first recorded “High on a Mountain”. This powerful song was recorded over 100 times and in 1992 it became a hit by country-rock singer Marty Stuart.