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Kevin and Crystal Richardson (right) are now performing together with the bluegrass band Sweet Potato Pie.

Seagrove couple join musical forces

Crystal and Kevin Richardson of Seagrove have played bluegrass music most all of their lives. However, for the first time in their 15 year marriage, they are picking together in the Raleigh-based band, Sweet Potato Pie.


“People have always asked when are you going to play together,” Crystal said. “Well, now we are.”


For more than two decades, Sweet Potato Pie has been known for its distinct harmonies and entertaining stage shows. Covering songs from Linda Ronstadt to Bill Monroe along with their own chart-topping songs, they serve up a family-friendly, full-energy “sweetgrass” feast.


The Richardsons came from musical backgrounds. Crystal’s dad is Bobby Franklin Summey, a well-known Asheboro radio deejay and music event emcee. Kevin’s family played music. It was natural for them to follow their heritage.


Both began playing music at an early age. Crystal started picking banjo while a student at Balfour Elementary School in Asheboro. Kevin started learning guitar while at Seagrove Elementary. They connected 25 years later.


Crystal remembers the first time that she saw Kevin. It was the fall of 2004. He was playing in a Band Showcase at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual festival. They were formally introduced through another area musician, CH Lineberry, from Star.


Kevin recalled, “Our paths crossed when I figured out that her son (Jeffrey) wanted guitar lessons. He was my first student.”


After her son’s second lesson, Kevin made a stark discovery.


“I told my mom, ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’”


So after one of Jeffrey’s guitar lessons, Kevin approached the car where Crystal was waiting.


“I said, ‘If there’s a chance for me, I’d like to have dinner with you sometime.’ ”


Crystal called him the next morning to accept. 


Crystal confessed. “After a week’s worth of dating, that was it. I felt needed, loved and appreciated.”


Their courtship was brief. Six months later, the couple wed on Nov. 11, 2006, on the Denton FarmPark stage.


Crystal explained their choice of venue. “That was the first stage we ever played together. It was Fourth of July at the (Southeast) Threshers’ Reunion.”


Throughout their married life, the musical pair continued to perform, but separately. Crystal picked banjo with Sweet Potato Pie and Kevin played guitar with several Nashville-based touring bands, including The Larry Stephenson Band and Merle Monroe.


During special events, Kevin performed with Sweet Potato Pie as a featured artist. Now the seasoned musician will bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to the band on a regular basis. Recognized in the music industry for his dynamic Tony Rice style of guitar picking, Kevin is also known for his smooth velvety vocals which will blend well with SPP’s signature sound. 


“Figuratively speaking, Sweet Potato Pie has been a part of my family and my life for over 15 years,” Kevein said, “and although I have filled in as a special guest with them on many occasions, it was a definite ‘Yes’ when the opportunity came for me to join them.


 “SPP has been together for 22 years running! The longevity alone speaks volumes! Their ability to create and push the music to different places while staying true to their own sound is what is really special about SPP. Our chemistry together, on and off stage, is something special and the timing was right to make this move. Sonya Stead (founding member) is a great songwriter, musician, and business woman whom I have the utmost respect for and being able to share the stage with my wife is an added bonus!


“When Sonya approached me with the idea, it was just a no-brainer! SPP has the ‘It’ factor and I couldn't be happier about the direction we are headed.”


Crystal is happy to have him aboard. “We are regular people that get to do cool stuff. We love playing together because we challenge each other. I push him vocally. He pushes me with my banjo stuff. He keeps me on my toes, not letting me get comfortable with what I play. I need that!


 “When I look back on my life, I think this (performing together) will be one of my favorite parts. I love the (current) configuration and am excited for people to hear us,” Crystal affirmed.


Sweet Potato Pie’s fall tour kicks off on Aug. 19 in Pittsboro at the Mosaic in Chatham Park. Visit www.sweet-potato-pie.com for the group’s full schedule.