(left) The Davis Family, (right) Chip Davis in the studio
Chip Davis is one of the most recorded voices in Nashville. Today, Chip performs with Alabama on keys and vocals. Everyone in the business knows that Davis is a singer/songwriter, and won his first BMI award in 2008. One of Chip’s greatest accomplishments, however, is a treasure to him, The Davis Family 2018 album, Lifetime, and it’s bluegrass through and through.
From the West Virginia coal mines, poverty, and being involved in a religious cult, the Davis family has lived a full life. Although they weren’t allowed to listen to the “dark side” of music from the Beatles or The Rolling Stones, they were allowed to tune into Loretta Lynn.
Music is what Chip refers to as his own salvation. Growing up in church, where his dad stood behind the pulpit for over three decades, singing was as natural as biscuits and gravy to him. As he puts it…
“Momma lost her brother in a mining accident, and was having a hard time dealing with his death. Dad asked her what he could do to help her overcome it. She had always wanted a piano, and Dad went to this snake handling church (I stood outside a lot times, and watched through the door, but never could drag myself in there), and bought that piano. There was a pedal that came off a lot, and I can remember getting pinched while putting it back on the wooden dowel rod.”
However, it was that $75 purchase that changed life for this family. Raymond and Arlene, and their four children, would gather around that piano and sing.
The Davis Family Album actually began more than 30 years ago, but the recording started in 2012 and was completed in 2013. The Tracking Room was the setting with the entire Davis Family in the studio. Vocals were done by parents, Arlene and Raymond, and their four children, Billy, Chris, Amaleia, and Karen. Chip laughs and says “Dad wore a tie, guess he thought it was a dress up occasion.” Some truly fine musicians played that day, and it can be heard in the final tracks.
My Mama’s Roses was inspired by Chips grandmother. Onie Vermont Keaton Davis (1897-1979), a green thumb gardener, picked a rose from her favorite bush. The cabin mentioned in the first phrase, is actually a vivid description of the way Onie lived. Nothing ornate, but tons of beauty surrounded her in those flower beds. Aunt Virginia gave Chip’s wife, Barbara, a diligently wrapped, long stemmed rose from that bush, with tender care, and then she took a piece of aluminum foil and secured the stem so it wouldn’t dry out. Barbara accepted this gift of love and planted it, nurtured it, and watched it bloom. The first verse and chorus are the male members of the Davis family, while the second verse &and chorus are the ladies. “Everything in that song, is true,” said Chip.
This Sunday is a day in which society honors our Mothers. A day of celebration and remembrance of motherhood, and the influence of mothers in our society.
Those roses still grow on the hillside, and never fade. A constant reminder that Mothers are special, just as Chip’s word reiterate.
Happy Mother’s Day, to those who have gone on before us and those that still are present.