Jeff Syracuse Metro Council District 15
Carol Grace Anderson
Carol Grace Anderson spent her early childhood years living with her family in a tiny, 18-foot trailer near New York City. “Here’s the fun part,” she says. “Our neighbors in the trailer park were mostly circus performers. Can you imagine coming home from school and watching them practice daring tricks and stunts right before our eyes?”
When Carol was twelve, her family moved to Godeffroy, a small village in upstate New York; population 395. “It was between Huguenot and Cuddebackville, if that rings a bell,” she said jokingly. Her Dad, a minister, became the director of a non-profit camp there, Jubilee Ranch, for inner-city youth. As a young adult, after flunking out of three colleges, Carol decided to buckle down and get serious about becoming a teacher with a stable future. She earned her BA degree followed by a Masters from NYU, which led to a job teaching in a correctional facility for male felons.
Music was always a part of Carol’s life as both parents were talented musicians. She sang with her sister Mary Beth and close friend Sharon Ferrara on weekends. They called themselves “Ladysmith” and played gigs all around the New York City area. They played mostly country music. She said, “It was common to see Les Paul listening to us from the bar at The Rainbow’s End, or novelist Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. requesting “Jambalaya” at O’Lunney’s Pub in the middle of Manhattan!”
The group soon started performing their own songs with a country flavor. They got the attention of a New York publisher at Chappell Music who invited them to record a demo. Henry Hurt, who headed up the Nashville division, signed them immediately as staff writers.
Their dilemma became, “How can we work in Nashville and maintain our other ‘real’ jobs in New York?” Not easy. Sharon also had two small kids to consider. But they all decided to take the plunge and moved to Music City in late 1974. That move led them to sing backup for Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Alex Harvey, Marshall Chapman, and others. They had songs recorded by Roy Clark, Gary Stewart, Crystal Gayle, Dorothy Moore, Dave & Sugar, Mickey Gilley, Terri Gibbs, and many more. You can hear them (along with Vicki Hampton) singing on Terri’s mega hit, Somebody’s Knockin’.
Carol and Mary Beth had an offer to join Roy Clark as his backup singers. They traveled all over the U.S., England, and Russia with him including performances on The Tonight Show, the Grand Ole Opry, and Hee Haw. After ten years on the road, Carol and Mary Beth branched out into new directions. Mary Beth enrolled at Watkins College of Art and Carol became a professional speaker. Not wanting to leave her roots, she included inspiring music in her programs.
When Mary Beth crossed the final finish line after a brave battle with breast cancer, Carol began writing as a way to deal with her deep grief. Her first book, Get Fired Up Without Burning Out!, was not only helpful to her, but thousands of others were inspired by it.
Carol’s next book, Some Angels Have Four Paws, was about her dog Cowgirl and life lessons we can learn from them. It became a local best seller and will be reprinted soon in a revised format.
Carol has never regretted her courageous move to Nashville back in the ‘70’s. Nine years ago, she met Coleman Murphy, the love of her life and an amazing guitarist. He currently tours with John Anderson and does studio work. Five years ago they got married and performed their original song, I Found You, during their wedding. Watch it here.
These days, Carol still enjoys all the ways that Nashville has evolved and, along with public speaking, she’s expanding her creative talents by designing and writing greeting cards for Blue Mountain Arts.