Walter S. Fletcher must have music in his blood. Many of his ancestors
(that's kinfolk for some of us) were musicians, most notably his
Uncle Am Stuart, who was the first Tennessean to commercially record country music.
He recorded sixteen sides for the Vocalion label in mid-1924. According to historian Professor Charles Wolfe of MTSU,
these recordings are essential to the study and preservation
of the earliest influences and heritage of America's most beloved music,
and are held in the archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN.
Yet another of many stories comes out of their family. Uncle Am's brother, George R. Stuart (Walt's great grandfather) was a very important evangelist and co-worker with Sam P Jones. Together with inspiration and help from Thomas Ryman, they were
the first preachers to hold huge revival meetings in and raise
funds for the Union Gospel Tabernacle, "Nashville's Mother Church".
When Ryman died in 1904, Sam Jones and George Stuart held the
funeral service in this great building where the three men had shared
such a passion. And on this day the decision was made to rename
the church Ryman Auditorium, which would later become home
to the Grand 'Ol Opry!
Traces of both country music and evangelical influences from their
family heritage are evident in Sterling Fletcher's songs and it is only
fitting that the music be recorded in, and with the spirit of, Nashville, TN.
Also worth a mention is his great-grandmother, Zollie
Sullins Stuart. People still remember her playing the piano - one
song with her left hand, another song with her right, and singing
yet another song all at the same time!
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