Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Inner Views of Doyle Lawson

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9
Doyle's favorite Bible verse

  I don't ever remember a moment when bluegrass music was not an integral part of my life.  Some of my earliest childhood memories include moments sitting by my Daddy listening to him play his five-string banjo and learning to sing high tenor, honing that high lonesome sound with him and Mom.
 While every, single interview I have conducted for Inner Views has been distinctive and personally memorable to me, I must tell you that the Inner Views I am sharing with you today will forever hold an extraordinarily special place in my heart.  This humble man of God is a legendary giant in the world of bluegrass music and is one of my biggest musical heroes, hands down.  Whether you are a long-time fan or being introduced to him for the first time today, you will be abundantly blessed by reading his Inner Views.  I am deeply humbled and beyond grateful to have met him and for his kindness in taking the time to grant us this interview.  My only regret is that Dad isn't here to cherish this experience with me.


Doyle Lawson

Cheryl:  Could you share with us about your childhood?  What are some of your favorite memories to recall from your time growing up?

Doyle:  As far back as I can remember I have loved the sound of music. Radio was the vehicle of entertainment in those days and there was an abundance of local, regional and national programs to listen to. The ones I remember vividly are of course The Grand Ole Opry on WSM in Nashville and The Farm and Fun Time show heard daily on WCYB in Bristol, TN/VA. In the early 1950's my dad and mother along with one of his nephews started singing in churches locally and I loved to watch them work out the harmony parts and I absorbed everything I heard them do.

After hearing Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys on the Opry I was knocked out by Bill's voice and mandolin playing and decided that I was gonna be a picker and singer. In 1948 we moved to Leatherwood, KY when dad went to work for the Blue Diamond Coal Company. I saw my first country music show there when I was 5 years old. Mom had taken us to see a Roy Rogers movie at the Commissary (Company Store) Theater and Jimmie Skinner and his band performed after the movie. I was captivated by the whole thing and the fact that he had a mandolin player (Ray "Curly" Lunsford) was icing on the cake. When I was 11 years old, we were living in Hancock County, TN and dad was singing lead with the Clinch River Quartet and I discovered that one of the men in the quartet (Willis Byrd) had a mandolin and I asked dad to ask Willis if I could borrow it to learn to play. In 1958 I got to meet the man who became my first professional boss in music. Jimmy Martin was from Hancock County and had gone to work for Bill Monroe in 1949 and went on to front his own band The Sunny Mountain Boys in 1954, first teaming up with The Osborne Brothers. On the 3rd day of Feb. 1963 I went to Nashville and auditioned for him to pick the banjo and that started my 55 years and counting music career. I could go on and on with childhood memories, but time and space will not allow it. I suppose at some point in time I'll probably write my book.

Cheryl:  Were you raised in a Christian home?  What are your first recollections about Jesus?  How old were you when you became a Christian?

Doyle:  Yes, I was brought up in a Christian home after my dad rededicated his life in 1950. He and mom along with one of his nephews started singing in church as a trio and later added a bass singer. At the age of 8 during a revival service, I realized that I was lost, and I went to the altar and accepted Jesus as my Savior.

Cheryl:  Who has most influenced you in your walk with the Lord?  Is there a particular person who prayed for you most and whom you credit with being your strongest Christian mentor?

Doyle:  I would venture to say that the many prayers of my parents that went up on my behalf especially after I left home to chase my music dream.  Dad would tell me that many times he had no idea where I was, but he prayed for my safety.

Cheryl:  How has becoming a Christian impacted your music and career?

Doyle:  The music business can be full of worldly trappings and it can be easy to lose your way. And I did for a good while. But on the 1st Sunday of May in 1985 I humbled myself and asked God to take control of my life because I had made a mess of it. On the outside things looked and were going great but inside me I was miserable. I didn't have the one thing I needed most of all and that was God. He never ever left me, I left Him, but He was there when I truly asked for forgiveness. That was the best decision I have ever made as an adult.

Cheryl:  Who has most influenced you, musically?  Who are your musical heroes?

Doyle:  Bill Monroe was my first musical hero and then came the 1st generation of what was to become known as Bluegrass music. Flatt & Scruggs, Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Martin, The Stanley Brothers, Reno and Smiley, and The Osborne Brothers and more.

Gospel music would be The Chuck Wagon Gang, The Statesmen Quartet, The Blackwood Brothers, The Masters Family, The Browns Ferry Four, and local and regional groups.

Cheryl:  How did you become involved with Bluegrass?  What most draws you to this genre of music?

Doyle:  I covered this earlier but will elaborate on what drew me to it. The vocal emotion they sang with as well as the driving tempo used in many of the songs. Of course, Bill's commanding voice and dominant playing along with Earl Scruggs's banjo prowess. It was different than the mainstream country of that time and it was when every one group was trying to present their music in their own way.

Cheryl:  Can you share with us about a special highlight in your career?

Doyle:  Oh my, there are many to draw from, but I suppose the first-time appearance at the Opry with Jimmy Martin was one of the standouts. I had always wanted to go see the Grand Ole Opry and as it turned out the first time I saw it was from the stage.  I was so nervous you could literally see my pants legs shaking. The National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship award is another treasured memory as well as being inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2012.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
From left to right:  Eli Johnston, Dustin Pyrtle, Stephen Burwell, Doyle Lawson, Josh Swift, & Joe Dean

Cheryl:  One of the songs of yours that has impacted my family and me the most is “Closer I Must Be."  To this day, I cry each time I hear it, and I would love to know the story behind the song.  How did you come across this song, and what persuaded you to record it?

Doyle:  Dee Gaskin wrote that song and I had the demo for quite a while and finally got it recorded on the Winding Through Life CD. When recording I like for songs to compliment each other and that one certainly had something to say about our desired walk with the Lord.

Cheryl:  Another of our personal favorites is one you co-wrote with Jamie Dailey, “Just Over In Heaven.”  As a songwriter, how do you find inspiration?  Is there a particular place you like to go to write?

Doyle:  While I have written a number of songs and co-wrote, even more, I have never thought of myself as a writer. I think I am a better song doctor because there are times when I think a song should maybe be more in-depth or take a different approach to the storyline. I think Jamie Dailey and I wrote well as a team. Much of the time he would have a melody and maybe a verse or so and we would start from there. Just Over In Heaven is written and performed much in the style of the Quartet music I listened to as a youngster. I want to be clear in the fact that I never change a writer's song without getting their permission.

Cheryl:  If you could go back and change one thing about your life, so far, what would it be?

Doyle:  I wouldn't want to go back and change anything because it could be that I would make it worse the second time. My belief is that when you humble yourself and pray for forgiveness of your transgressions, it's done and one should not beat themselves up and be remorseful of their past mistakes. God forgives and forgets and we should be joyfully accepting of that. And I thank Him for loving His children.

Cheryl:  Of all of the songs you have recorded, is there one that stands out as meaning the most to you?

Doyle:  When I record, be it Gospel or secular, every song on the cd earns its place. I don't record anything just to fill up space. So it's really hard for me to pick a favorite. The people that listen and buy my recordings determine the favorites most of the time. Probably the two most requested Gospel songs are "On The Sea Of Life" and "Help Is On The Way." But there are far more than these two in both Gospel and secular. "Blue Train (of the heartbreak railroad line") is probably the most requested secular and we usually close the show with it.

Cheryl:  What advice would you give to the person who dreams of becoming a bluegrass musician/singer?

Doyle:  It's not an easy thing to accomplish and one must have what I call the three P's. Practice, Patience, and Perseverance. That applies to any genre of music one undertakes. And remember the first reason to play music is for the love of the music. Money is a necessity but it should be the second reason for what one is doing. In my early days of music, I and most everyone else had day jobs to supplement our income. But the music was first.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you at this season of life?

Doyle:  My Hope and Prayer is that the way I carry myself in the public eye is pleasing to God and the folks who see me. I appreciate your prayers as well.  Thanks for taking time for me.  Blessings on you and yours.

Words are incapable of expressing my deep appreciation and gratitude to Doyle for taking time from his busy schedule to bless us with his presence here.  If you would like to learn more about Doyle Lawson and his band, Quicksilver, or purchase his music, you can find him at www.doylelawson.com and on Facebook

From left to right:  Dustin Pyrtle, Stephen Burwell, Eli Johnston, Doyle Lawson, Josh Swift, & Joe Dean

To read previous
click the links below.


  1. Inspirational for sure. Thanks dear friend!

    1. Thank you so much for reading, sweet friend! I so appreciate your support and friendship. Sending love and hugs your way this Christmas!

  2. Cheryl, your writings all have a special place in my heart. I don't comment often, but I believe I've practically read all of them. This Christmas I am dearly missing my grandparents who both grew up in the hills of West Virginia and dearly loved gospel and bluegrass. Hearing those sweet melodies has brought such comfort. There is nowhere I feel more at
    home than in the mountains. I pray you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

    1. OH, Jan! I can't begin to tell you how much your sweet comment meant to me today. It was so wonderful to "meet" you, and it touches me deeply that you have read most of my writings. My heart goes out to you in the loss of your dear grandparents. I trust Jesus will hold you extra close in every moment of grief and missing them. I totally agree with you. There is no where I feel more at home than in the mountains, also. After many years of longing to live in them, God made a way for us to do just that, and we are cherishing every moment! You will never know how much I appreciate your comment and support. May God bless you richly this Christmas!

  3. Before your Inner View here, Cheryl, I'd never heard of Doyle Lawson. What an incredibly talented, and humble, man! I'm going to archive your post so I can go back and listen to his music.

    1. Oh, wow! It is hard for me to imagine life without Doyle Lawson's music in it! He surely is incredibly talented and extremely humble. My family and I were SO thrilled to meet him a few months ago. It was indeed a dream come true to stand there and talk to him, and this interview will forever be one of life's crowning moments, for sure. I am so thankful to be able to introduce his music to you, and I trust you enjoy it for years to come! Many blessings to you and yours this Christmas season!

  4. Like Martha, I'd never heard of Doyle Lawson when you first mentioned his name, but then a I listened to some of the songs you shared, I realized I had heard his music! He truly is a gospel great, and I really enjoyed hearing his story! You have such a gift in pulling stories and thoughts out of people's hearts and using them to encourage and bless the reader. It is always a delight to read your Inner Views and to see how the Lord is working deep in the hearts and lives of people. May the Lord continue to bless all you do for Him!

    1. How neat that you found out you have heard Doyle's music! The whole world should hear it and be blessed by it. Your precious words of encouragement meant so much to me, and I so appreciate your support, sweet friend. Your prayers are a gift, and I can't thank you enough. May God bless you and your dear family this Christmas season!

  5. Whoa!!!

    This is so cool! I have chills for you!

    To get to interview a person you've grown up listening to is beyond imagination!

    I'm so impressed by Doyle... and not just for his musical skill, but for his humility in all that he's attained.

    That's the mark of a person of God.

    I'm praying for his ministry and yours too, sister.

    Well done!

    1. Thank you SO much, brother. Doing this interview was truly a dream come true. Meeting Doyle was just an amazing blessing, and you are so right-he is amazingly talented, but his humility means even more. I am SO thankful for your encouraging words, and your support means so much to me. Your prayers are a gift from God. I am so grateful to you and trust God will bless you abundantly this Christmas season!

  6. Cheryl, what a fascinating read and music. You are such an amazing writer and a gift to all of us. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and joy-filled New Year sweet friend!

    1. Thank you ever so much for your kind words, sweet friend! Much love to you this Christmas!

  7. Wow! What a great interview! Thank you so much for sharing it. Doyle is certainly one of the great ones of all time and has left an indelible mark on bluegrass music, blessing countless listeners and musicians. I felt like I could picture him responding to each of these thought-provoking questions and that I could easily detect full sincerity in every response. :-)

    1. What a blessing to read such a kind, encouraging comment! I am most grateful for your words. You are so right. Doyle is one of the greatest, and he is also one of the most humble and sincere. I don't think any other interview could ever top this one for me, to be honest. He has been such a hero and inspiration to us for so long. It meant the world to us to meet him and to share this here. God bless you for stopping by and leaving such encouragement! Have a healthy, happy, blessed new year!

  8. I've been a Doyle Lawson fan ever since I can remember and this was a wonderful interview Cheryl!! So glad you had this amazing opportunity and you did a great job with it too!!

    1. Thank you so much, Tipper! I am so glad you enjoyed reading it, and I am not surprised that you are a fan of Doyle's! Happy New Year to you and the whole Blind Pig gang!

  9. I love bluegrass music.

    One of my favorite places to visit is Floyd VA ....love going there on Sunday afternoons when folks come in pick awhile as they have the notion....like the old days when they sat on the porch and sang together and flat foot danced.

    I'm not a Southern girl originally, but when I arrived in the South the people and music and lifestyle fascinated me.

    Thank you for an inspiring post.


    1. That sounds like a really fun time in Floyd, VA. It reminds me of many such gatherings in my own family through the years. Thanks so much for reading and visiting, Shirley! Happy New Year to your and yours!