Cover for Stoneman: Pressing On: The Roni Stoneman Story. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Pressing On

The Roni Stoneman Story

The tragicomic life story of one of America’s best-known country entertainers, told with warmth and honesty

This book recounts the fascinating life of Roni Stoneman, the youngest daughter of the pioneering country music family and a woman who, in spite of poverty and abusive husbands, eventually became "The First Lady of Banjo," a fixture on the Nashville scene, and, as Hee Haw's Ironing Board Lady, a comedienne beloved by millions of Americans nationwide.

Drawn from more than seventy-five hours of recorded interviews, Pressing On reveals that Roni is also a master storyteller. In her own words and with characteristic spunk and candor, she describes her "pooristic" ("way beyond 'poverty-stricken'") Appalachian childhood, and how she learned from her brother Scott to play the challenging and innovative three-finger banjo picking style developed by Earl Scruggs. She also warmly recounts Hee Haw-era adventures with Minnie Pearl, Roy Clark, and Buck Owens; her encounters as a musician with country greats including Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, June Carter, and Patsy Cline; as well as her personal struggles with shiftless and violent husbands, her relationships with her children, and her musical life after Hee Haw.

"[A] moving and frequently comical memoir."--The Tennessean

"Co-author Ellen Wright has skillfully assembled and corroborated Stoneman's narratives. . . . Stoneman's story is crammed with her personality, full of funny anecdotes about her family and other performers with whom she worked, all wrapped in her hillborn cussedness."--No Depression

"It is a gripping and well-told tale, and Stoneman's can-do spirit, which helped her rise above daunting personal and professional challenges, should inspire all readers."--Library Journal

"[An] engrossing narrative [that retains] all of Roni's personality, humor, and compassion. Roni conveys emotion powerfully and there were some parts of the book that were so painfully sad I had to stop reading. But I couldn't stay away long, wanting to get back to the parts where she made me laugh out loud."--Bluegrass Unlimited

"[For country music fans] it's another eye-opener. Praise goes to [Stoneman and Wright] for their excellent input on this latest volume in the University of Illinois Press series Music in American Life."--Nashville Musician

"Told in a no-holds-barred, earthy style, Pressing On is a remarkable read."--Country Music People

"Ellen Wright lets Stoneman's raw voice and warm personality come through in every paragraph of the kaleidoscope, and the result is a memorable journey through back stages and bars, recording studios, bedrooms and TV soundstages, from the Appalachian mountains to Alaska and back, from joy to grief and back."--Blue Ridge Country

Pressing On is an Appalachian Angela’s Ashes told from a female perspective. It tells the story of Roni Stoneman’s private and public life with remarkable and appealing candor. It is a book full of unfolding revelations, told with a sense of humor, and without an ounce of self-pity. Her story is entertaining at times, heartbreaking at others, but always compelling.”--Sandy L. Ballard, editor of Appalachian Journal

“This is a unique book: the authentic story, in her own voice, of a woman who was once one of America’s most widely known entertainers. There will never be another Roni Stoneman, and there will never be another book like this one.”--Elinor Langer, author of Josephine Herbst

"We already knew Roni as a first-rate banjo player and comic. This book reveals her as a sharp, observant, thinking woman, and a captivating storyteller."--Murphy Henry, banjo player and columnist for Banjo Newsletter and Bluegrass Unlimited

Ellen Wright conducted the interviews with Roni and arranged and edited the transcriptions. In 2005, she was named the Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer at Northwestern University, where she teaches in the Writing Program.

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

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