Let's Talk with Cheryl Hollon

My Appalachian Heritage

August 25, 2022

I’ve been celebrating the release of my latest mystery, DEATH A SKETCH (Paint & Shine Book #3). This book means the world to me. It is set in the county where my family originates.

These precious guitars spent their existence in the talented hands of my parents. The long marriage of my parents – over seventy-two years. It also represents their deep love of country music.

They were rural Appalachians who grew up during the depression and married right after World War II ended. My parents are descended from eastern Kentucky’s highland Scots-Irish farming families that grew up with music as part of their everyday lives. They both learned to sing and play music when they were toddlers. I don’t remember a day during my childhood when someone somewhere wasn’t singing, plucking, or jamming on a guitar, piano, or drum set.

My dad picked up guitar techniques by listening to his extended family and studying music from the country and western radio shows that played over their wireless. Dad played in the style of Chet Atkins and was also lucky to take lessons from a rising star named Meryl Travis. My dad would trade up to a new guitar every five years or so, but my Mother kept that bass forever.

My .mother taught herself how to play the bass guitar. She improvised the most amazing runs and trills to provide a rich rhythm to the family band. Yes, that’s right. This is a promotional picture of The Hollon Family. We were a Country and Western group that played in venues all over Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and even Tennessee. We mostly performed on outdoor bandstands during festivals. From the left are my dad, Wendell, my mom, Marcella, my little brother, Mark, me, and my cousin Jim.

Do you have family heirlooms that speak to you of your heritage?

My Paint & Shine Mysteries are set in the Daniel Boone National Forest. My parents were born, raised, and now rest in peace at the Adams Family Cemetery in Wolfe County, Kentucky. The characters spend a lot of time preparing traditional southern meals and creating moonshine cocktails. Please consider buying local. Independent bookstores need your help during this challenging time.

For more about author Cheryl Hollon, visit her WEBSITE.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Cheryl Hollon • Tags: , , , |  10 Comments


10 thoughts on “My Appalachian Heritage

  1. How cool! I never knew you were musically inclined. And this part is awesome – my husband Richard was a huge fan of Chet Atkins. He learned by listening to his recorded reels of the guy’s music. Richard plays the guitar and sings along every day using Chet Atkins’s style. He has two guitars, a Gretsch and a Gibson.

    1. Hi Nancy. Surrounded by music was a fantastic way to grow up. We learned many essential life skills by playing in the family band. I am thankful for an environment that promoted my creative side.

    1. Hi Carol, Thanks for stopping by the bench. I found this photo in my mother’s collection and remember how hard she worked on sewing our costumes. It was indeed a whole family effort.

  2. Love the photo. I grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on my Grandmother’s old radio that was taller than I was. We also went to church and listened to the folks sing gospel music — many times a capella or with a piano, organ, and/or guitar. Our family was not musically inclined, however, from the old stories, they had the moonshine part down pat. Loved the photo

    1. Hi Teresa! Thanks for stopping by. Since my whole family was musical, I didn’t think it was unusual until I went to high school and found out how lucky I was to have such wonderful memories.

  3. I love that photo, Cheryl! And I had no idea you grew up with music. My mom had a bit of a musical inclination, but I was the only one in our family who was really serious about it. Sadly, these days I never seem to find the time to practice. (Only so many hours in a day!)

  4. Cheryl, I’m having a little bit of trouble fitting you into this setting. Frankly, you’re one of the most sophisticated people I know, so it’s an adjustment. Not that mountain folk can’t be sophisticated, it’s just against the stereotype. I have what I term hillbilly relatives and ancestors from the Ozarks and they DO fit the stereotype. It would be fun to jam sometime!

  5. Cheryl, love that you used to be the Cowsills 🙂 We are the most unmusical people ever in our family, except that my grandma on my mom’s side could play piano. Though most of us can sing…some of us very well. But we do have some real artists on both sides of the family. My only talent, if you can call it that, is writing, and it’s not like you can be at a party and impress everyone by whipping up a great opening line or character description. 🙂

  6. I am much in awe of your family’s talent. Your Mom is a woman I truly admire-a self-taught musician! I love her musicality and she’s an inspiration to me. You are blessed to have grown up in such a creative environment.

We love to hear from you! Leave a Reply