Performing roots, country and folk music in her own unique way is what sets Delnora Reed apart. And she has been playing her music all across the country since she was a teenager. She’s shared the stage with Craig Morgan, Marty Stewart, Larry Cordle, Paul Thorn, Buddy Jewell, and many more while being named one of the ten Best College Entertainers In America. She also recorded as a member of the trio, The Shotgun Rubies. for Grammy Award winner Carl Jackson’s project, “Orthophonic Joy – The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited”, which released in January 2015.
Delnora grew up immersed in a rich musical environment. Her mother, Linda, was a classically trained vocalist, her father, Tim, introduced her to the best of folk, country, bluegrass and rock & roll music. “Mom plays piano,” she said. “Dad plays the guitar and mandolin. And every Reed family event was basically a celebration of the old-time tunes handed down by my Great Grandfather, Henry Reed. His tunes became the backbone of the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress. We all played those tunes; whether in tents by New River, or on porches in keeping with tradition. My PaPa Reed (Gene) was probably the most patient in teaching me chord progressions on the guitar. Both sides of my family gave me the musical roots to draw from and the encouragement to grow in my own artistry. They planted me in a varied and wonderful musical garden and I learned early that good music is good music, regardless of genre.”
Delnora says she can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a professional singer. “As a matter of fact, my parents, although encouraging, were reserved about throwing me into it as early as I wanted,” she recalled. “I was 11 years old before they allowed me to perform anywhere other than church, family or school events.”
Once she started singing locally, her parents saw that she was seriously focused and began to realize she needed her own songs. “I remember dad telling me, ‘There’s already a Reba McEntire and a Dolly Parton; You need to be you; we need to write you your own songs.”
So her dad began writing songs with Norman Godsey from Ballard, WV. And Delnora sat in on every one of those writing sessions. “I thought I was just the singer back then,” she recalled, “but I never really realized how much I absorbed and how much I learned as they wrote songs for my album. I had creative input and was learning how to craft a song intuitively because of how young I was.”
While they were recording those songs, a local DJ, Big Al Harman, from WAEY 96, started doing interviews with Delnora and her dad, documenting the whole process. “Looking back, Big Al also helped me in more ways than I ever realized: giving encouragement and drumming up local interest in what I was doing, and providing me with invaluable experience which helped me prepare to do what I love doing for a living,” Delnora said.
Music is now a full time profession for Delnora, who is also now a mom. “I was blessed to have my first child a little over two years ago, so as you can imagine, I took a little time off after having him. I say time off, but when you love what you do and it is your outlet for expressing swelled up feelings and emotions, do you ever really take time off?”
Delnora feels her style tends to be diverse. Although influenced by many types of music, her music doesn’t necessarily follow any one particular genre. There is an obvious underlying current of country/bluegrass/roots in most of her songs, but you can also pick up hints of blues and jazz influences as well. “It really depends on the song,” she said, “especially in regard to my CD, My Song. There is something for everyone. If Track one isn’t your style, just skip to the next one. I promise it will be completely different.” Her CD was co-produced by herself and Harry Smith. The effort was graced by musicians who play gigs with Martina McBride and Montgomery Gentry. “It is diverse. Every song is a little different, and I’m very pleased with the result and humbled that I got the chance to work with such great talent.”
From house concerts and coffee houses all the way to big stages, Delnora says she enjoys them all. “I’ve always interacted with my audience and pulled from a diverse repertoire to find the songs that will connect. I’ve been amazed at how many people come up to me after a show and say, ‘I don’t like country or bluegrass music but I like you!’ It makes me smile because that means it’s just good music – and good music crosses genres.”
Delnora currently has a new single, “When You’re Gone,” that was recently released to Inspirational Country Music Radio Stations and started charting this past December. “We will find out in February if I’ve been nominated for an ICMA award. So that’s exciting,” she said.
She also has a new solo project in the works, “I’m trying to narrow down which songs to put on a it, but I keep writing songs too, which is a problem, but a good problem to have when you have too many songs,” she laughhed.