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Stoney Edwards was one of the first African-American country music singers of his era, scoring a pair of top 20 hits during his brief run. The Oklahoma and Bay Area native found fame in his forties, although he never became a huge household name.

Born Frenchie (or Frenchy) Edwards in Seminole County, Okla. on Dec. 24, 1929, Edwards move west to raise his family in San Francisco. In 1968 while working in an oil refinery, Edwards suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and was in and out of a coma over the course of two years.

After recovering, Edwards was discovered singing country songs in Oakland by a local attorney who knew that with the success of Charley Pride, labels were looking for the next star. Edwards signed with Capitol Records and released five albums, just six months after suffering the accident.

Edwards’ biggest hit is perhaps the track “She’s My Rock,” which hit the top 20 in the country charts. Another hit, “Hank and Left Raised My Country Soul” which hit the top 40. Another hit, “Blackbird (Hold Your Head High),” which used the n-word but did happen to hit the charts as well.

In the ’80’s, Edwards’ health and career took a hit and he fell away from the scene. He died from stomach cancer in 1997.

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