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Chris Haddox is a Logan, West Virginia born and raised songwriter/singer/multi-instrumentalist who is now based or of Morgantown, West Virginia. He writes and sings his voluminous collection of songs about (to quote him) “religion, firearms, courthouse squares, goats on trampolines, shoes, fiddles, and hurricanes”—whatever catches his eye. He deftly combines humor, sarcasm, and blunt honesty to create songs that are accessible and relatable to a wide variety of audiences.
This stellar musician is also a community leader who has directed Habitat for Humanity and worked to preserve old neighborhoods, a WVU professor of sustainable design, and an amateur musicologist who researches musicians from the southern coalfields of West Virginia. That’s a lot of breadth for someone the music community knows as a well-loved, easy-going consummate picker and gifted songwriter in the traditional folk, country, and Americana vein.
Chris released his first album on March 25, 2022 at the age of 61. By April it had climbed to #11 on the Folk Alliance International chart, with all tracks from the album receiving steady airplay on 60 or so stations across the U.S., and a few further afield.
Everyone who knows Chris Haddox seems to know something different about him. That’s not surprising because this stellar musician is also a community leader who has directed Habitat for Humanity and worked to preserve old neighborhoods, a WVU professor of sustainable design, and an amateur musicologist who researches musicians from the southern coalfields of West Virginia. That’s a lot of breadth for someone the music community knows as a well-loved, easy-going consummate picker who never met a stringed instrument he couldn’t master—not to mention a gifted songwriter in the traditional country/Americana vein.
Says one of his close friends and fellow musicians, "I once looked around at a party where most of the guests didn’t know each other, but they all knew Chris. “You’re the nexus!” I said, to which he replied, after reflecting on his Logan County West Virginia roots, “Maybe I'm the Red Nexus!.”That kind of self-deprecating wit extends to his voluminous repertoire of songs about (to quote him): “religion, firearms, courthouse squares, goats on trampolines, shoes, fiddles, and hurricanes”—whatever catches his eye. He continues, “Like most writers, I try to find new ways to address old topics. Some songs are funny, some sad, some sarcastic but they are all honest--even the ones that are full of lies.“
Born in 1960 into a musical family in Logan, West Virginia, Chris started playing piano at age 6 and moved onto guitar when he was influenced by his Uncle Jim, a fantastic country blues singer and picker. In college he picked up the dobro and just kept going… fiddle, banjo, mandolin; he seems to have an innate facility with those strings.
Galvanized by the Delmore Brothers, Chris moved to Nashville in 1981 to dedicate himself to making it as a songwriter. Over the course of three healthy stints in the Music City he learned about the music business, made some great friends and contacts in the business, but he eventually decided that the time was just not right for him. His time illustrates a principle from the age-old question: Do you want to be a professional songwriter, or do you want to write songs. After leaving Nashville, Chris never stopped writing, and we’re all the better for it.
If you live in Appalachia, a land of savage contrasts, you develop a relationship to obscurity and miscommunication. Many outsiders willfully misunderstand us. In Appalachia, we have a history of fixed ideas: Music is something you do after work, for fun. Your real work is about your people and the communities you live in. Chris’s work and avocation come together in his passion and talent for lending voice to forgotten musicians brings them alive for all of us. To hear him sing and play over the graves of lost and forgotten musicians in remote and overgrown mountain cemeteries, reveals their humanity and rescues ours.
An exceptional musician with an open heart, Chris is a collection of all the right kinds of contrasts. In short, Chris Haddox represents everything that is good about Appalachia.
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