Second Female Bluegrass Interview – Guess Who?

Hello Everyone.  We have another female bluegrass singer and she is a wonderful, kind and currently the President our HABOT Club.  Welcome Mary Eddings!  I know you will enjoy her musical journey and appreciate her background that makes her one of the most enduring people I know.  If you have not met her please introduce yourself and your life will improve.  She has a wonderful singing voice in a way that seems so wholesome.  You can tell she really loves the music.
BB: Introduction – Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Mary: My parents were from the Ozarks in Arkansas, as a child we traveled to Washington State, they worked in the apple orchards and on farms. We were very poor people, I went to several different schools and had a hard time keeping up. I was VERY shy and quiet. When I was 13 or 14 years old we moved back to Arkansas to stay and I will always be grateful for that, it was one of the best times of my life. I love those hills and will always call them home. My sister was 3 years older and was girly, I was a tomboy and loved being outside playing with my brother who is almost 2 years younger, Cowboys and Indians was the game of the day. He taught me how to drive and we have always been pals. We were always a very close loving family, so with the passing of each member, it has been really hard.

Hobbies: I’m not sure I had a hobby. We spent a lot of time doing chores, working on the farm, in the garden, milking the cows, goats, getting the hay up. Sundays was a day of rest, we would go to church and maybe take a picnic lunch, drive to the lake or sight see. There was never a thought that we might drop out of school, we were going to at least graduate from high school, that was what our parents expected.

BB: When did you get started in your musical journey?

Mary: I’m not sure when I started singing, maybe when I could talk, I have loved music
my whole life, it is part of me, it makes life worth living. One of my fondest memories, as a child, is when we would go to church on Sunday and sing those old gospel songs, and then on the way home, (probably my mom would start), we would sing all the way home. I never sang in public, I was way too scared, only with my family. My sister and I would sing together at home and that was good.

BB: What happened after that?

Mary: I got married in 1969 and moved to Riverside, Mo. Then we moved to Holt, Mo where we lived for 31 years, we had two daughters, I was a stay at home mom, which I loved, I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, gardening, room mom, Brownie Leader and many more little jobs. However I did miss the music, (singing with my sister) then it was more country music and gospel. I sang a lot around the house. My husband isn’t much of a music person, they say opposites attract and I guess it is true.

BB: Where did you go from there?

Mary: Our daughters went to college, got married, we have 3 very special grandsons, they are all good singers and are all very talented. I worked at a few different jobs and finally went to work for Clay County at their Girls Group Home, I have been there for 11 years. I could retire but am not sure I want to, those girls are pretty interesting, it is a great fit for me.

BB: What happened after the next?

Mary: I always wanted to sing in a band, although I’m not sure I have enough talent to do that, it has been a little scary. I knew a gentleman, Don Christiansen, who wanted to form a band, I called him,
he started looking around, found some really nice guys and really good musicians, we are Windy Ridge Revue, we have had some new members and are doing some reorganizing. It is a lot of fun to see how it all comes together.

I also visit several different music venues around the area, I have met so many special people and love them all so much, this is a wonderful time in my life. I especially enjoy going to Senior Centers and Nursing Homes, to give something to people who have little hope of seeing a live show or much of the outside world. I feel like these people are stuck there for life and their only crime is growing old. I feel like we should always, always give back to the people who made America what it is today.

BB: How did you get into Bluegrass/Old Time/Other Music?

Mary: I would say my brother-in-law got me into bluegrass, his name was John Paul Hefley, he used to ask me to go to HABOT and to other places, I was always doing other things or just couldn’t go. Sometimes I would go over to his church to a jam session, and I really liked it. Then suddenly he passed away, I was devastated, I decided that life is too short to think we can put off the things we really have a passion for and keep waiting because tomorrow may never come, we have to do it today. Then I met Jean Bartee and Deryle Cline and started coming to HABOT, he ask me to help with the membership, I was hooked, I love the club, the music and all the people I have met there. I miss so many dear people who have passed away and left their mark on the club and our lives.

BB: What is your favorite Bluegrass Band or Artist? Who influenced you the most?

Mary: Well, probably the first bluegrass festival I ever went to was the Prater festival at Fillmore and I saw Louisiana Grass and they were so much fun to watch, I like Larry Stephenson, Flat & Scruggs, it would be hard to say which one I like the best, I really like them all.

BB: How many songs have you written?

Mary: I haven’t written any songs, I have a couple of thoughts but haven’t done anything with them.

BB: What advice would you give to young people wanting to get started in Bluegrass?

Mary: I don’t know if I could give advice, I do know you will get a lot more than you can ever imagine, friendships that will last a lifetime with lots of very nice people. Don’t give up, if you love this music keep going forward and share what gifts you have with others. Just have fun. You may never become wealthy from bluegrass music, but you will get much more.

BB: Anything else you want to say to wrap up this interview?

Mary: I hope to enjoy many more years of listening to bluegrass and being involved in any way I can, it is a pure, sweet sound, that rings out of the hills, it makes you feel like you are there again on the front porch.
BB:  Thank you Mary for your service at the club and especially for sharing your musical journey.  You are a true blessing to the bluegrass venue.