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He is 69 years old now, but still singing many of the same songs he learned growing up on the Middle Peninsula. Some of them are the mountain ballads his father sang. Others are spirituals and traditional tunes he picked up from African American workers on his grandfather's farm melodies they used to establish a cadence while working in the fields.
When it's suggested that the songs seem to come from Jenkins' heart, Collier replies: "Even deeper than that."
"This music is such a part of America," he said. "And it's right here. It's where we are. It's still living. It's not a forgotten thing."
"This is the music that's supposed to come out of him real old, old stuff. Nike Uptempo Toddler
"It's something he grew up with, and it's embedded in his soul," Collier said.
A man and his music
Bill Collier, who has been playing the stand up bass for the Virginia Mountain Boys since 1997, says he has never seen anyone who can match Jenkins' ability to craft a connection between the singer and the song.
"If there's someone who wouldn't normally listen to this music," he said, "and that person hears it and says, 'That's not bad, I think I'll listen to it again,' then you've done your job for all of your life. Just one person. The whole thing is to keep the music alive."
"A lot of people take offense to this song, and that grates on me," he says. "I'm proud of the state of Virginia and everything that's part of it, for better or worse. That song is such a part of our family that when my mom died, we sang that song in church I might add, with a large contingent of black people who were there holding hands and singing that song like there was no tomorrow. That song is such a part of my heart."
"It's all like a faded dream," he said. "I look back on it now and I think, 'Why didn't I take pictures of this and that?' The whole experience has been like a wonderful wheel that has just turned. So many wonderful experiences.
Jenkins acknowledges that he will change a few words from the original lyrics, but not the tone of a song that professes love for his home state. It's a fitting choice, as Friday's show will mark his induction into the Virginia Musical Museum in Williamsburg.
When he first learned that the Nike Uptempo Gs Reflective
museum planned to honor him, Jenkins' first instinct was to stress that he shared the tribute with his entire band. He said he was almost embarrassed to tell the other musicians of the honor because he feared that they would feel slighted. But the bond between these band members is as tight as the intricate harmonies they sing on stage.
We sing it as it was written," Collier said. "That's how he learned it and how he taught it to us. We knew these songs before, but we learned so much more about them from being associated with Bill."
Regardless of the roots of a particular song, Jenkins said he cherishes the opportunity to pass it along to new generations.
Jenkins talks about this music with a reverential tone in his soft voice. These are songs that helped get him through difficult times military service in Nike Uptempo Olympic Vietnam, the deaths of loved ones and he considers himself blessed to be able to perform them.
That's what he says this honor from the Virginia Musical Museum Nike Uptempo Houston
Buddy Parker, who operates the museum, said the Jenkins exhibit will feature his first acoustic guitar, as well as the original suits that Jenkins wore with his first band. Parker says that after the show at The American Theatre, people will be able to come to the museum in Williamsburg and "see what this man is all about."
means to him: the chance to share this music with a new audience.
Jenkins, the Gloucester County man who has been singing traditional songs for more than a half century, will be playing The American Theatre in Phoebus on Saturday with his band, The Virginia Mountain Boys. And the soft spoken gentleman sounds almost defiant when he explains why he will open that show with "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia."
It's a part of our history, he says. A part of who we are, both individually and collectively.
"There is a camaraderie that you rarely find," Collier said. "It's something that's out of this world and not found in too many bands. We are really more like a family, and everything falls into place like a jigsaw puzzle."
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