The “Americana Youth of Southern Appalachia” album released last month from the Share America Foundation and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Americana radio charts, according to producer Randall Franks. The CD, which highlights more than 30 youth between the ages of 11 and 27 from across Southern Appalachia, raises funds for a scholarship program benefiting students who excel in the Appalachian musical arts.
“The race to share their music has just begun and we are hopeful that radio friends, their listeners, and folks who buy the music will continue to find us for months to come,” said Franks. “When fans download the songs or send in donations, it just allows us to encourage even more youth.”
One of the students featured on the album is Adairsville High School junior Isaac Moore. A skilled guitar, bass and piano player, Moore currently tours with The Old Time Preacher’s Quartet as a substitute singer. He was channeling his work with that group as he selected the song he ended up recording on the album — an Appalachian twist on the gospel hymn “Farther Along.”
“Farther Along” is a song about wondering and questioning God’s plan and, later, learning to accept the trials and tribulations of life as part of the lord’s intended path. For Moore, it was a perfect choice.
“It’s impossible to understand God’s reasoning for the circumstances we face in this life, but as the scriptures tell us, his ways are higher than ours, and one day when we become as he is in Heaven, we will understand it all,” Moore said of the song. “Every trial, burden and temptation will be understood.”
Franks, an International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame legend who appeared as Officer Randy Goode in TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” praised Moore for his contributions on the album, noting that “Farther Along” charted higher individually than any other song.
“He recorded his own song, but he also played guitar on several of the other cuts on the album,” Franks said. “That’s what is so unique about this project. They played for each other. They worked together every step of the way and really got to see all the facets of creating music from beginning to end. That’s great experience, especially if they want to pursue a career in music.”
Franks has been involved in music his entire life and said his favorite part of working with up-and-coming musicians like Moore is seeing them walk in to a recording studio for the first time.
“The look on their faces, the first time they hear themselves sing of play on playback is so heartwarming,” Franks said.
Ringgold’s Wally O’Donald was 10 years old when he experienced that heartwarming moment recording the album.
“It was really cool to be in a recording studio and see all of the equipment,” O’Donald said. “I really liked playing both songs and especially ‘Traveler’s Lantern.’”
He also recorded the Tommy Scott rockabilly song “Been Gone a Long Time.”
“I didn’t know before how much time it takes to record a song,” O’Donald said. “I am grateful though for the opportunity.”
Other youth performers on the album include Emerald Butler; Warren Carnes; Phillip Cross; Landon Fitzpatrick; Nicholas Hickman; Trevor Holder; Kings Springs Road of Johnson City, Tennessee, whose members include Tyler Griffith, Owen Schinkel, Kylie Anderson, Josh Meade and Max Silverstein); the Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band of Chattanooga, Tennessee, whose members include Eli Beard, Cody Harvey, Colin Mabry, Wil Markham, Tyler Martelli and Chris Brown); Matthew Nave; Drew Sherrill; SingAkadamie, whose members include Jacob Trotter, Grant Lewellen, Nicholas Hickman, Lilly Anne York, Haleigh Grey, Kayla Starks, Chelsea Brewster, Logan Lynne and Kiersten Suttles; Landon Wall and Tyler West.
Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Jeff Hullender, SingAkademie director Sherri Thrower, Tim Witt, John Roberts, Bary Wilde, Chris Gordon, Tim Neal and Mitch Snow also contributed to the album, which was recorded at Tim Witt Studios in Rocky Face. Ringgold youth Bradley Powell mastered the recordings, while Witt served as recording engineer. Other engineers participating on specific recordings include Steve Mabry, Mitch Snow, Ben Bateson, Dan Boner and Josh Chuma. Ryan Stinson served as associate producer.
The North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation Foundation provided grant funds assisting with mailing costs for radio distribution of the album and underwriting a portion of the studio costs. Portions of the project were also supported by the Kiwanis Club of Ringgold and the Wes and Shirley Smith Charitable Endowment.
AirPlayDirect.com partnered with Share America to deliver the CD digitally to over 11,000 stations around the world.
“Americana Youth of Southern Appalachia” is available for a $15 donation in Ringgold at It’s Sew Time, Southern Tradition/Stuff 4 Less, and Uniktings, or on the web at www.ShareAmericaFoundation.org. It may also be downloaded through Apple, iTunes, Google Music, Amazon and CD Baby.