Mountain youth are making their mark in Appalachian sounds

I have been honored to be part of encouraging the talents of young people throughout my entertainment career even when I was a youth myself helping to open opportunities to share their gifts. Through the Share America Foundation, Inc. I have hosted over 100 concerts combining the talents of youth with established legendary artists from several genres – country, bluegrass, comedy and gospel music.
The goal of the concerts ultimately besides providing a public platform for the youth’s music and a mentoring opportunity is to fund the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship for youth sharing the Appalachian musical arts.
I have been very pleased to watch many of the youth I once performed with on our stage achieve greater opportunities and see some of their aspirations bring them to the attention of people from around the world. Two talented North Carolina youth who came to our Share America stage with their father Sam in 2008 are vocalist/fiddler Summer Brooke McMahan and banjo stylist Brayden McMahan on banjo with their band Mountain Faith.
America got a close up look at them on 2015 “America’s Got Talent” as they made their way to the semi-finals and since that time they have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2016 Emerging Artist of the Year, appearing at professional sports stadiums across the country performing the National Anthem, and they were named the Atlanta Braves 2016 Band of the Year.
The group now records with Mountain Fever Records as Summer Brooke and The Mountain Faith BandSam still plays bass with the band and Summer and Brayden are joined by Nick Dauphinais on guitar, and Cory Piatt on mandolin.
“The band name changed a little bit because Summer has not only been the focus of our sound with her lead vocals for years, but she’s also been doing more of the emcee work lately,” Sam said. “The whole band decided a name change would be the best thing for the future as we grow and progress.”
Their latest song “Umbrella” is the first single from the upcoming album, Small Town Life, due for release this summer. “Umbrella” was written by the band’s friend, Dean Berner along with Laura Veltz and Ben Cooper sharing a desire to shelter a loved one from all of the world’s outside problems, “Umbrella” is a happy little number that is delivered with poignant perfection by Summer Brooke.
“When we heard the demo, we all had the same wide-eyed look,” Summer said. “It’s one of the most well-written songs we have ever heard! We knew we had to record it and we hope everyone loves it!”
I am so proud of Summer and Brayden and I want to encourage you to learn more about these talented young people in their musical hopes. Fans may download “Umbrella” and those who pre-order Small Town Life will receive an instant download of “Umbrella.” For more information on Summer Brooke and The Mountain Faith Band, visit For more on Mountain Fever Records, visit
If you would like to support Share America’s continuing efforts to encourage youth in Appalachian musical arts, visit and donate today. Like Share America Foundation on Facebook also.

Charley Pride shares music from his heart

I sat in the artist green room at International Country Music Fan Fair between event appearances catching a break from the 25,000 fans who had come to Music City to meet the stars up close and personal. Over the years the chats sitting around the green room included folks such as Kenny Chesney, Paulette Carlson, Neal McCoy and countless others. On one of these breaks, I experienced a  favorite conversation I shared in country music with Charley Pride. He came in and sat down beside me, introduced himself and then spent the next few minutes asking me about my life and career. It was such an honor feeling that this country music icon was interested in my work. I had always been interested and enthused by his. He is one of my favorites of all time.
He is now celebrating more than 50 years as a recording artist. He helped break color barriers by becoming the first black superstar in country music becoming a true living legend. He has sold tens of millions of records and is a three-time GRAMMY® award winner.
He is back with his brand new album, Music In My Heart, which is available now. The project serves as Pride’s first album in more than six years, and is released via Music City Records. The highly anticipated project features 13 new studio recordings that were produced by acclaimed singer/songwriter Billy Yates. Fans can purchase Music In My Heart on AmazoniTunes and wherever music is sold.
“Charley Pride’s vocals are just as soothing to the soul as a glass of Granny’s tea and those pair of shoes that you always find yourself drawn to…. just like returning to the well,” according to Billboard.
He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy® at their 2017 Special Merit Awards in New York City on July 11 where he also made numerous media appearances.
The Country Music Hall of Famer has garnered no less than 36 chart-topping country hits, including “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” a massive #1 crossover hit that sold over a million singles and helped Pride land the Country Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year” award in 1971 and the “Top Male Vocalist” awards of 1971 and 1972. A proud member of the Grand Ole Opry, Pride continues to perform concerts worldwide and has toured the United States, Canada, Ireland, The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand over the last several years.
I encourage you to check out my friend Charley’s newest CD, support his concerts and reach out to him and congratulate him for his lifetime honor. He deserves this and so much more. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to have him take interest in my life. Great man! For more information, visit

The loss of history dooms our future

As we worked in the recording studio, the nearby fireworks popped and boomed in the sky nearby.
After a 10-hour day in the studio of producing the amazing talents of a group of youth bringing together some original music to share to radio, my mind set back to the coming day ahead – Independence Day.
In our family, the day always marked my late mother’s birth, now 91 years earlier, but my folks never let me forget that it stood for something so much more when a group of American patriots gathered, debated and ultimately signed a document to cut our colonial ties with England beginning years of war.
For most of these men, it meant loss, hardships and an uncertain future, but because they made the choice, our country was set on a path to freedom.
We are still a young country in the realm of our world’s history, yet in recent years, it seems many people and groups the align with spend a lot of time reframing history to reflect the lense if today’s experience and thinking. Overseas under the cloud that has risen the last two decades, we have seen terrorists destroy historical places, statues, artifacts, because those that created them did not align with their beliefs. Thousands of years wiped from the face of the earth because of the thoughts of someone today with no respect for those who came before or a desire to learn from their existence.
They judge the actions and thoughts of those set in a different time and place and often in a world we could not even envision living within, condemning them for their place in history sometimes on one aspect of their choices within the bounds of the society in which they survived.
Generations of our ancestors lived in a world in which slavery was the norm, in fact many of our own ancestors, were slaves at some point, whether they were sold into slavery for profit or as the spoils of victory between warring peoples, were born as a serf spending their life toiling for a royal land owner, or became an indentured servant to work off a debt or secure something better years in the future.
In reality, today, there are millions of our brothers and sisters living around the world who are toiling in slavery today, with their lives bartered and sold at the whims of others. Sadly, this is true even within the shadows in our present day America, inside the norms of certain cultures, and in the sex trafficking trade.
Many of us have seen the news or historical reports of millions of people killed in places around the world in an effort to end the existence of a race or tribe of people, a group of people who worship in a particular religion, or people with a different political ideology and national allegiance.
Even within our short-lived history in America, our ancestors have fought wars, skirmishes and battles to win the American continent from native indigenous people and other European powers that dominated various regions and took public policies on our own soil, that resulted in certain people following particular religions, being or certain race or nationality being persecuted or not given equal opportunities.
So, some activists, choose to wipe out the admiration and acknowledgement of millions of past Americans for the contributions of presidents, governors, legislators, scholars, educators, explorers, statesmen, military officers, and just plain folks because they condemn where that person fell on an issue, belief, political alliance or life choice. Unfortunately, now, many of have found themselves in positions of power, whether elected, appointed or hired and they bow to the loud voices of the present ignoring the voices of the millions who came before and choosing to hide away our history. Though in their time they worked and raised monies to erect statues, place monuments to people who in their time and their circumstances were those who moved or changed the world in a positive way.
As a result, we have seen statues moved, monuments destroyed, plaques taken down. At least in our country the activists have not taken on the ‘let’s blow it to kingdom come’ approach we have seen of some of our world’s greatest treasures overseas.
If we revise our history and the people who made it to suit our present prospectives, how will we learn from past mistakes? Our world and all aspects of the human experience were brought forward by flawed individuals. It’s by examining their experiences, their flaws from the modern-day lense, that we are not doomed to repeat the history they experienced. But if we tear down our past, we are simply setting ourselves up for more of the same. Learn from those who came before, don’t judge their actions based on where we are.
If you want to fix something, the same atrocities from the past exist today…. Fix that, if you look close enough, there is a living breathing person who is within your midst who needs the attention to change their life and circumstances. Spend your energies on fixing that, rather than trying to win a victory over those who can no longer speak for themselves.


Hall of Fame event partners with National Quartet Convention

For many years I served as an advisor to the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum Board of Directors. That to me was one of the greatest opportunities to serve those who made an impact on my life with their careers in music by being part of recognizing their contributions. For many years we hosted an annual award ceremony event at Dollywood where the museum is visited by folks from around the world.

A few years ago, SGMA re-established its partnership with the National Quartet Convention, moving the inductee presentations as part of the annual event in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., marking its 60th Anniversary this year.

The NQC and SGMA have announced a new partnership to present the SGMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Benefit Concert to be held on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 during the afternoon at the LeConte Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, TN.

The program will honor the 2017 SGMA Hall of Fame class of inductees Troy Burns, LaBreeska, Hemphill, Randy Shelnut, and Tony Greene. I want to applaud the SGMA for the recognition of these talented artists. Personally, I am glad to see my friends Randy Shelnut of the Dixie Echoes and Troy Burns of the Inspirations receive the honor.

The show will also feature special performances by the Jim Brady Trio, the Hoppers, the Kingdom Heirs, Karen Peck & New River, the Second Half Quartet, the Guardians, Triumphant, the Whisnants, and Tribute.

My longtime friend and encourager SGMA Hall of Fame member Dr. Jerry Goff will be serving as master of ceremonies.

The event will serve as a benefit for the SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum, which is located at the main entrance of Dollywood. The SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum features many important pieces of memorabilia and historic artifacts of Southern Gospel Music history.

“We are so grateful to the NQC Board of Directors for partnering with us to help keep the vision of the SGMA alive, “said Arthur Rice, SGMA President. “This special event will be our biggest fundraiser of the year. Many of the legends who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame will be present to participate in the concert. Having all these artists in one place, at one time, onstage…will be one of the highlights of the convention.”

Admission is $20, the same price as all of the other NQC Showcase Spectaculars, and can be purchased at or on site at NQC. The event  Tuesday, September 26, 2017 from 1–3 p.m. at the LeConte Convention Center in Pigeon Forge. You can attend just this event or buy tickets for any other NQC events at Learn more about the SGMA at