Eight-year Newland resident Derek Halsey received his 10th International Bluegrass Music Award nomination in July, having written at least 40 bluegrass-related articles each year for more than a decade. Halsey is a freelance journalist who writes for Mountain timetable, Capital At Play in Asheville and the Grammy Award Recording Academy in Los Angeles, California.
Since the beginning of his career in 2001 writing for the deceased Gritz Music Magazine, Halsey has conducted over 1,300 interviews with a number of influential artists, including poet Maya Angelou, actor / musician Steve Martin and musician George Jones. More than 600 of those interviews were with bluegrass musicians “of all levels of fame,” Halsey said. His first article was about the death of Country Music Hall of Fame musician John Hartford.
âI have loved music of all kinds since I was a child, and this quickly led to a very diverse vinyl record collection sourced from thrift store trash cans and flea market tables. A lot of people claim to âlove all kinds of music,â but this is rarely true. As for me, the more music I found from other countries and cultures, the bigger my stack of albums grew, âsaid Halsey. âI read every word of every cover note found on every album and CD cover.
My collection ranged from Naif Agby and his Lebanese Radio Orchestra to southern rock from the Allman Brothers Band, which was my all-time favorite band, to McCoy Tuner’s jazz, to Latin music by Tito Rivera and his Cuban orchestra. , heavy metal and hard rock by bands like West, Bruce and Laing and funk by Graham Central Station.
Halsey moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2012 from Ohio, after spending “15 years in a row” vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and traveling to Wilkesboro for 10 years to attend MerleFest. According to Halsey, it was after attending MerleFest for a decade that he “finally climbed the mountain to Boone.”
âAnother influential album (for me) was the bluegrass ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which had many guests including our own Doc Watson. Never in my dreams had I thought that I would end up living near Watson’s hometown all those years later, âsaid Halsey.
Over the course of her career, Halsey continued to write for her “hometown diary,” the Herald’s Expedition in Huntington, W. Va., “because it’s a way to keep in touch with the wonderful little town I was born in,” and has also established himself as a writer for the Unlimited Bluegrass Magazine based in Owensboro, Ky.
In 2010, Halsey received the Charlie Lamb Excellence in Country Music Award from the International Country Music Association and Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., Which is now known as the Rolling Stone Magazine Chet Flippo Award for Excellence in Music Journalism.
Lamb is known as the first to create a music industry newsletter / magazine, according to Halsey, and he also coined the phrase “with a bullet” to describe a single that was climbing the music charts.
Flippo “has helped raise the profile of country music with his coverage of artists” including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings, according to Rolling stone. Flippo was also editor of the magazine from 1974 to 1977.
Halsey said his time in the High Country exposed him to “organizations such as the Junior Appalachian Musicians program, which has created more than 55 local jam sessions and educational programs for children and adults in North Carolina. North, Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina “.
âThis special region known as the High Country, along with all of western North Carolina, has always been a hotbed for roots music,â said Halsey. âBeing part of the musical scenes of Boone, Avery County and Asheville while surrounded by these beautiful mountains, gorges and trails is a dream come trueâ¦ the music is passed on and the tradition continues. “