GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The steel guitar has brought two musicians and a well-known singer together. The relationship builds a bridge between Mississippi and Australia.
Legendary Australian steel guitar player Wayne Appleby is in Australia’s Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. Mississippi master of the steel guitar Bill Stafford is one of America’s best steel guitarists. The pair of musicians from two different continents sat down and played together at Stafford’s Harrison County home, and the sound is magical.
Stafford is recognized around the world as a musician and an innovator. He developed different pedal steel guitars, adding more strings and more range, which forever changed the instrument. That’s one reason why Appleby traveled to South Mississippi. He presented Stafford with a coveted award from Australia.
“Everybody in Australia knows Bill. He’s always there if someone has a question. To me, he deserves this award, which is getting into Australia’s Hall of Fame,” Appleby said.
Appleby brought another treat from down under, Australia’s Queen of Country Music Jean Stafford. Jean, Wayne and Bill joined other musicians on stage at the VFW in Gulfport. Stafford is known around the world as the Golden Voice of Country. She has recorded countless hits.
She first visited Coastal Mississippi last year and had to come back to perform, honor Bill and see her new Mississippi friends.
“The whole thing has just been a blast. It’s been wonderful. I’ve had a great time,” Jean Stafford said.
Here’s the twist to this story. A few years ago Australian Jean Stafford and Mississippian Bill Stafford discovered, out of the blue, that they’re cousins. They now share the love of music and family.