An Influence for Generations

Tucked away in the quiet little community of Allons, TN, lives one of The Garrett family's living legacies. Edwin Garrett, or more commonly known as Grandad to the family, was born in Overton County, Tennessee, as he says, way back in 1933. I am guessing back then Edwin had no idea what an influence his love for Christ and music would make on his family throughout several generations. For years, Edwin has been a staple in the Allons community as a deacon at Allons Baptist Church, a beloved retired school teacher, elected official, a legendary storyteller, a warrior for Christ, cherished friend to many, farmer, and music lover and entertainer, among many other things. To his family he is simply Grandad and always a loving tender hearted man willing to give a listening ear and a good word of advice to any of us in need of such a service. Edwin is where much of the Garrett family tree has gained it’s passion for music and it's nothing out of the normal for the family to set around listening to his stories or picking up guitars and jamming to old gospel tunes. So this, folks, is where the dream all started….way back in 1933. Not because it was planned or sought after, but just because music and love was rooted in the very heart of the Garrett family clan.

I asked Grandad if he would take part in a little interview and he graciously accepted and the results of that interview went something like this.

Can you tell me a little about your background in brief detail?
I attended a one-teacher school, Cedar Grove near where I was born. We walked to school and enjoyed playing games that we "made up." My parents Ove and Booz Garrett and Maxine, my sister, lived in the house where my dad and his dad were born. It was built by Arture (Arter) Garrett who was my great grandfather.

Where, and when did your love for music show up?
So far back I cannot remember. My mother said I would hum the tune to songs before I could talk.

What kind of effect has music had on your life?
It has influenced me in many ways. I am inspired by good Gospel and Country music and learn something from almost every song I sing or hear.

Can you imagine your life without music?
I cannot imagine that. It's so much a part of everything I think and do. I find a song title in almost every phrase I see written or hear spoken, even in your blogs.

How important has music been to you throughout the years?
It lifts me when I'm low, solaces me when I'm sad, and comforts me when I'm alone.

What style of music do you prefer over most others?
Old Country & Gospel.

Do you remember the first song that you fell in love with?
We had an old RCA Victrola and some Carter Family records that I listened to a lot. But I guess the first song I fell in love with was "The Great Speckled Bird" by Roy Acuff. Then when I was around 18 years old Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger, released "I'm Moving On" and I fell in love all over again.

Whats your favorite instrument(s)?
Well, the guitar is the only one I play so that would have to be my favorite. If I could play it, the fiddle would probably be the one I would choose.

Whats your favorite song right now, and why?
It's really difficult for me to pick one song above another because they all touch me in different ways. Recently I ran across a copy of the old Gospel song "I Won't Have to Cross Jordan Alone." What a powerful melody and lyrics it has!

What other musicians have influenced, and inspired you on your musical journey?
Earnest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Hank Williams, and the two great singing cowboys from the movies, Roy and Gene.

As a retired public educator what are your thoughts on music in the public education system?
That's an easy question with a simple answer--not enough. As a teacher I used music to teach almost every subject, especially history. Ask a few of my former students about me and they'll almost always say, "Oh yeah, he used to sing 'The Battle of New Orleans' all the time." There was always music in my school. I've said for years that there is so much musical talent in these hills, and it should be developed more in our schools.

You and your wife Peggy have celebrated how many anniversaries together?
We have celebrated 55 happy years together, and on February 13, 2011 we plan to celebrate another.

How has your wife influenced your musical journey?
Peg has been my strongest supporter and greatest critic. She also gave me the greatest compliment I have ever received although I cannot relate it here.

What do you think about your grandsons, Stephen and Russell's career paths in the music industry?
I am very proud of them. They both seem to be where they want to be at this point in life. They are both talented young men and I predict they will go far in music.

Your legacy has grown quite large, and now spans several generations. How does it make you feel to know that you have passed down such a passionate love for music to your children, grandchildren, and now your great grandchildren?
I am greatly humbled by the fact that I have been able to perform with my children and grandchildren, and, hopefully, my great-grandchildren sometime very soon.

Any advice or stories you would like to share to wrap up this interview?
My advise would be to follow their dreams as far as they take them and keep singing and writing songs just as long as you have one in your heart. Stories? Far too many to tell here.

*Photo credit to Terasa Lewis

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was eager to say hello to my first grade classmate who I had only seen two or three times over a fifty-year period. Arriving at his home, I found him working in his yard. I approached and was greatly surprised that he recognized me immediately. After a friendly hug, his first words were such as these, "Charles, do you know the Lord?" I nodded and said yes, and then we commenced to reminisce about the past.

    I believe that because he was first concerned about my soul says a great deal about the makings of the man.

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