Today was sad as I lost yet another friend to a non-COVID death. This time kidney failure.
Janet Turner was a local singer who had a unique youthful sounding voice and an immense personality.
Born and raised in Floyd County, she was a mainstay of the Floyd Country Store’s Friday Night Jamboree often heard singing old-time, bluegrass, classic country, and gospel songs both in jams on the street and on stage. She never left Floyd to live anywhere else as far as I know. She learned most of her songs from the radio as she would say although the sacred music of ‘country’ churches is where she first learned to sing I assume. She was a member of the Church of the Brethren but welcomed all faiths as valid.
Around Floyd’s uniques street music scene on Fridays for the past 30 years or so she was often seen playing her autoharp like Mother Maybelle Carter as she sang various songs from her wide repertoire with impromptu jams. She would occasionally be asked by local churches to sing at their annual revivals and by civic groups for benefits for local people in need. She asked various local players and singers to form her pickup band. I was near the top of her list when she was asked to perform. I went as much as I could and helped her regularly at the Friday Night Jamboree gospel hour. I usually played guitar in a bluegrass back-up style as the bands included some of the finest bluegrass pickers that could pick out the melodies and add more harmony to the choruses.
Janet Turner only made a few recordings but never traveled outside Floyd County for any performances as far as I know. Unfortunately, she was not well-known to the wider world except by the tourist and international visitors to the Friday Night Jamboree when she was featured. Famous singer Alice Gerrard was one of her fans and wrote a raving review of her CD for the Old-time Herald magazine back when it came out.
So here’s a ‘classic’ old-time song that she recorded a few years ago as part of a CD project that she was encouraged to do with local players backing her up.
Keep on the Sunnyside will be this week’s selection from her CD entitled When My Time Comes to Go
This song is known as a Carter Family song, and she loved Carter Family songs as well as any. Many of us will surely miss her around Floyd.