I was born and raised as one of eight children in the heart of West Virginia, the only state completely within the Appalachian Mountain range. I spent the first 43 years of my life living up the same holler, until I made the move to England.
My mother came from a singing family. I grew up hearing her voice in song as a constant. She sang when she was happy, when she was sad, worried, nervous and excited. She sang as she sewed, she sang as she cooked, as she hung our laundry on the line, and as she worked in the vegetable garden. I learned many songs from her without even realizing I was learning them. The songs were just a part of life.
I learned bunches of traditional hymns at church as a child. There were no musical instruments in the church...no organ or piano...none was needed. Shape notes were sung in beautiful harmony. Among the harmony was my Mom's alto. It was heavenly! Sometimes I would think that the singing from that hilltop church would cause the roof to raise!
We often had singing relatives and other singing folks visiting us. I learned many songs from these people. I'd often make cassette recordings of songs that I wanted to learn or ask them if they would write the words down for me. When I was old enough to drive, my Mom, sister and I, would sing in various churches in the area or go to gatherings at other people's houses, reunions, schools, community buildings, celebrations and funerals. My 7 siblings can all sing, but most are too shy to ever allow themselves to be heard. However, growing up together in a small house, I heard them. I was taking it all in and memorizing their lyrics.
There always seemed to be a variety of singing styles and types of music available. Country, bluegrass, pop and rock, along side the traditional and old time. It was more about what the singer felt like singing or instrument they were playing at the time. Somewhere along the way, I had learned to play a few chords on the guitar for accompaniment. Alice Wylde