The Amazing Voice of Linda Lay

Linda Lay began singing in church and on stage when she was six years old. She’s from Bristol, Virginia, a city at the center of one of the nation’s richest sources of traditional musicians. She grew up in a family string band, often hearing local tradition-keeper Ralph Stanley and echoes of the greatest of the family bands, the Carter Family. One of her favorite people was Jeanette Carter – Linda grew up singing for Jeanette, who operated the Carter Family Fold, a music hall just west of Bristol.

David Lay grew up in the coalfields of Virginia, where his preacher father tended his Methodist flocks, and in the little towns of the tobacco and vegetable farmlands of northeastern Tennessee. He always wanted to be a farmer, and he is. A graduate of the University of Tennessee (Agriculture), he once operated a large Tennessee dairy.

But like many other American farmers, David has had to supplement his current vegetable farming with other work. He’s climbed poles for an electric utility, run a welding shop, and operated backhoes and bulldozers of all sizes. He’s an electrician and plumber, and if his bulldozer breaks down, he can take it apart and fix it. “It keeps the costs down, and makes you skinny,” he says.

Here’s an excellent video of Linda and David performing at the Kennedy Center: