Growing up Singing

When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois I could stand on the back porch of our house and hear my dad's tractor out in the fields. This was back before we had huge farm machinery where the farmer sits inside an airtight cab. No, dad would putt through the fields, out in the open air on his International Harvester 560. Even from the house I could hear my dad singing hymns over the drone of the tractor. I know it sounds like a made up, bucolic scene from a movie but it really happened. (Maybe I'll write it into a movie someday but for now it's just a fond memory.)


My mom sang too. She sang at church, around the house, and in the car. As a matter of fact, our whole family sang whenever we were in the car. That's where I learned to harmonize. When our 4-H club would carpool to an event all the kids wanted to ride in our car because we would sing the whole trip. I know, it sounds like another scene from a movie but it was just a part of my childhood.


When my brother, sister, and I got a little older we sang “gigs” with our family at local functions. My mom named the group “The Singing Halls”. Oh yeah, she dug deep for that. I remember once we got paid $100 for a show and my parents gave it back because it was too much money!


I love performing with Laura and Kelly in The Sweet Potatoes because it's a natural extension of what I did in my youth. Harmonies come naturally to us. Sure, we take time to work out arrangements, but often times we just fall into our parts, kind of like singing in the car with my family.


Some things are different though. For instance, we have out grown the “giving back the money phase.” We may not get rich money playing music but it's not all about the money. You gotta do what feeds your soul, and music does it for me.