Holidays in Appalachia Music

Medals for Mothers

Today’s post was written by Paul.

mother and babe

Granny and Tipper

I think the song “Medals for Mothers” speaks to the amazing value and impact of a true mother. A true mother is often selfless, and when one loves selflessly, yes, I believe there are rewards and perhaps even recognitions awaiting in heaven. As I once heard Ira Louvin say, “There’s a big difference between being a mother of someone and a mother to someone.”

Any fertile man and woman can conceive a child, but they aren’t really fathers or mothers until they parent with love and raise the child that they conceived.

Back in mid April, I knew that I’d like to upload a song for my mother (aka Granny) and for all mothers on Mother’s Day. One weekend, after we finished practicing with the Pressley Girls, Corie (aka Chatter) stepped out to take an important call from Art and Brie of YouTube fame. While she and Tipper were outside, I taught the chorus and melody of “Medals for Mothers” to Katie (aka Chitter).

One thing I’ve learned lately is that I can sing with either of the Pressley girls, and I’ll like the sound. Each pairing sounds different to me but good either way. 🙂

Chitter learned quickly and by the time Corie and Tipper stepped back in from the phone call, we turned on the camera and gave it a try. I knew that this song could be done with a male lead and female harmony because Pap and Granny used to sing the song decades ago, and I had heard them sing it on an old cassette.

As far as I know, the Wilburn Brothers were probably the first well-known artists to record this song. Shortly after they did, the Osborne Brothers did. Interestingly, this is something that happened multiple times: the Wilburns releasing a song followed shortly by the Osborne Brothers releasing the same song, often with a more aggressive arrangement. The Wilburn Brothers definitely noticed it. I heard one of them (I believe Teddy) comment on the phenomenon on their TV show, just before introducing the Osbornes. I believe on that episode, Sonny and Bobby sang “Roll Muddy River,” which was first cut by Teddy and Doyle.

Anyway, Pap and Granny didn’t learn this song from either of them but from their longtime friend, Wilabell Dockery Kernea. Wilabell had a brother Jack who was a great flatpicker and singer, and Pap and Granny used to hang out with them, drink coffee, eat, tell stories, and pick and sing. Jack passed on years ago, but Wilabell is still alive. I used to pass her every now and then while I was driving a school bus. I’d like to thank her not only for teaching Pap and Granny the song but also just for her friendship to them over the years. I don’t know if she goes online at all, but maybe she might see this or one of her kids or grandkids might show it to her.

I hope our laidback (maybe even somewhat poor mannered) behavior just before singing such a sweet, sincere song, doesn’t turn anyone off. Several viewers have commented that they love seeing our pre-song banter and shenanigans almost as much as our music, so I left it in. Katie shows her Fire Marshall Bill teeth right after the camera starts, and I’m awkwardly shaking off the stiffness from my fingers caused by the practice session that just ended.

I can take partial credit for Katie’s great-sounding kickoff, in that I suggested earlier to her to pair two notes together just before the song goes to C, but I couldn’t explain to her WHY it sounds good. I guess that was kind of like Kickingwing asking Joe Dirt why firecrackers are good.

Now I have referenced both Fire Marshall Bill and Joe Dirt, two of Katie’s favorites. Katie calls this note-pairing a “double stop,” a fiddle term that I don’t understand.

The “squeak” heard in the last verse that Tipper refers to, came from Chatter’s phone. She and the Deer Hunter were both filming this song with their phones, and I think Chatter accidentally hit the playback button and played a note from the fiddle kickoff. I’ve never seen the Deer Hunter record a song with his phone, so I knew that he must have liked it, and that gave me better confidence in what we were doing.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! If you have a special lady who was a mother to you, take time to tell her thank you and that you love her! 🙂 Thanks for watching!


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  • Reply
    May 15, 2021 at 12:51 am

    Oh, how beautiful! I love this old song so much, and it, of course, always reminds me of my own dear, sweet Mom. How I miss her! I have been missing her more than usual lately as I long to ask her to pray and talk to her about the awful things going on in our world. I wouldn’t want her and my Daddy to have to know about it all though because it would break their hearts. Thank you so much for recording this and for keeping the dear old music alive that I was raised on. Sending love to all you.

  • Reply
    Walter Holokai - The Hawaiian Hillbilly
    May 10, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Wow! The harmony in this song is beautiful. Is that a Gibson Hummingbird or SJ-200? The playing and singing is super. Your whole family is so talented. I always read the blog posts while drinking my morning coffee. The writing is natural and beautiful. I can’t remember how I found you but I’m so glad I did. I love you guys.

    • Reply
      May 10, 2021 at 9:14 am

      Walter-so glad you enjoy what we do 🙂 The guitar is a Gibson Dove. Pap bought it new way back when.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Barrsgan
    May 9, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Loved the song as much as I love all the songs.
    I look forward each day to what awaits me from you.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you
    It is well deserved.

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    May 9, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    hope you had a great mothers day everyone even if they arent here in oerson any more they are still with us

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day, Tipper. Celebrate this special day with gratitude to our Lord!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    May 9, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Beautiful music!

  • Reply
    Allison B
    May 9, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Enjoyed this Mothers Day post…Happy Mothers Day 🙂

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Happy Mother’s Day Tipper. God Bless!

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 11:33 am

    My goodness, apparently there are a lot of good songs I’ve never heard. That song was beautifully sung by Paul and Katie. I was blessed to have a GREAT Mother and I think ya all were too! Happy Mother’s Day to you Tipper, Granny and Ms Cindy!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 9, 2021 at 10:47 am

    Great song as usual. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 9:06 am

    I wish I could have played that song for my Mom while she was still alive. Paul, you and Chitter sounded better in that song than any I have ever heard you sing.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 8:54 am

    I ‘m having a very hard time today missing my wife and the mother of my children and grandmother to my grandsons. To me Proverbs chapter 31 starting with verse 10 is a good description of my wife, Janice. Along with today’s song, two others I think about are Lord Give Mother My Crown and If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again. These may not be the
    correct titles but maybe you will know the songs I thinking about.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and grandmothers

    • Reply
      May 9, 2021 at 11:40 am

      Randy-my heart goes out to you! I’m thinking of you and your grandsons.

    • Reply
      Paul Wade Wilson
      May 9, 2021 at 9:39 pm

      Hi, Randy.
      We know one of those songs. Here’s a video of me and Chitter singing If I could Hear My Mother Pray Again in part of a concert. You’ll have to listen through a lot of banter from Chitter and instrumental, but then the song you’re talking about will play:

  • Reply
    Candace L. Esch
    May 9, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Thank you for the great Mother’s Day song! Blessed Mother’s Day to you and all the Mothers out there!

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    May 9, 2021 at 8:40 am

    That is a great song; Paul did a really good job with it. This was the first time I have heard it. It is a great tribute to mohers. Thank you. Dennis Morgan

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 9, 2021 at 8:40 am

    I don’t know about medals but children reflect their parents. They tell on us as surely as sun rises while still being their own person. That is most especially so to the discerning but that kind of discernment is usually a long time coming. And that is a mystery.

    Back when I was growing up, the common question to a young male was, “Whose boy are you?” typically meaning who is your Dad; or at least that’s how I took it. That question was the beginning of forming an opinion about you. I do not know if the girls were asked, “Whose girl are you?” and if they understood it to mean who was there Mom. I do expect they were asked that.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    May 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

    I never did see the song. I’m trying to cut down on THEIR tube so that’s not an option for me. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there!!!

  • Reply
    May 9, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Beautiful song to start this special,morning off.

  • Reply
    Liz Hart
    May 9, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Couldn’t find the video…..

    • Reply
      May 9, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Liz- sorry for the technical issue. The video is back 🙂

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