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The music of the mountains calls West Virginians home

July 20, 2013
By U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III , The Inter-Mountain

From backyard picnics and front porch fiddler performances to bluegrass barn concerts and congregational hymns, West Virginia's music echoes from mountain to mountain.

Sometimes even from a picket line.

Music is as much a part of West Virginia's rich culture, strong traditions and great history as the mountains themselves. And, at least in my experience, a major theme of West Virginia music has always been the immense pride in our state, our people, our culture and our beautiful mountainsides.

The most recent example is an upcoming West Virginia star, Pocahontas County native Wyatt Turner. He has the musical and vocal talent to go far in the music industry. But of all the things he could sing about for his debut record, he chose his home state.

His new song, titled "Remind Me of West Virginia," compares West Virginia and his fiancee. "You're wild and wonderful, like a place I've always known," he sings, "You're my country road, oh girl, you take me home."

Now that embodies West Virginia pride.

And, of course, it is a tip of the hat to John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which has become iconic homage to the charms and splendor of West Virginia, from an appreciative non-native.

Wyatt is following closely in the footsteps of many other talented West Virginia musicians. Landau Eugene Murphy, a Logan native, recently won America's Got Talent, and even as his career continues to climb the success ladder, he never forgets his roots.

When asked why he chooses to still reside in our state when he can move anywhere, Landau responded: "West Virginia will always be my home, and home and family are the most important thing in the world to me. I can always fly out to L.A. or New York for work, but being here helps keep me humble and grounded. I'm just very fortunate to be living my dream."

Again - immeasurable West Virginia pride.

And of course, West Virginians everywhere admire and respect our very own country superstar, Brad Paisley, who played the strings of his first guitar and found his passion for music along the Ohio River in Glen Dale.

Paisley's career began after years of singing in church and local events in the Northern Panhandle, finally becoming a regular in West Virginia's renowned Jamboree music show, known today as Jamboree USA, before moving on to stardom.

Not as well known, but certainly a music legend was Hazel Dickens, a native of Mercer County, a powerful protest singer and one of the first women to record a bluegrass album.

She also was a passionate advocate for coal miners, and found herself singing in many picket lines.

All these extraordinary musicians and the compositions they produce exemplify the power of music and how it can convey West Virginia's rich heritage.

beyond our state's borders, to the rest of America.

And no matter where you are, when you hear their songs, the music will take you to a place you've always known. It will take you, down country roads, to West Virginia.

 
 

 

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