Jim Muller and
2019 RIBA Hall of Fame inductees
Jim was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He is the band’s principal lead singer and songwriter. Jim’s rich, distinctive lead vocals and offbeat humor have become one of the group’s trademarks. A guitarist for over 40 years, he is also known for his polished flat-picking and rock-solid rhythm. Jim is also a staff-writer for Bluegrass Now magazine. His regular feature on sound, titled “Plugged In,” has received international attention.
Born into a musical family, Jim fell in love with bluegrass banjo as a child when his family watched local TV shows featuring Richmond area bands. His first instrument was the trumpet, but by the age of 14 he turned to the guitar, and after graduating from Virginia Tech, he started playing banjo.
Some of Jim’s most popular songs are I Didn’t Ask (a love song that he wrote for Sharon), Carolina Lightning (which he wrote during a tour to North Carolina during a thunderstorm), as well as two contemplative songs: Just a Little Man and My Old Friends.
Sharon is originally from Montreal, Quebec. She grew up listening to folk and classical music. The first bluegrass concert she attended featured Joe Val & the New England Bluegrass Boys. Her first instrument was guitar, but that was soon replaced by the acoustic bass. Sharon is known for her infectious smile, her limber bass work, and her tireless energy on stage and off. She sings tenor and high-baritone harmonies.
Sharon and Jim met as graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they both earned doctorates, she in molecular biology and he in geophysics. They married in 1977 and decided to stay in New England.
In 1978, Sharon and Jim co-founded Southern Rail. During the ensuing 41 years, Southern Rail has produced 13 recordings on a several record labels: Turquoise, Pinecastle, as well as on their own labels, Track Records and Railway Records.