Tammy Kendrick champions vintage country music in South Georgia

Photography by Wenda Gaile Bailey / Bailey’s Berrien Photos

Yes ma’am, Tammy Kendrick and the Country Boys are right at home in a honky tonk. The former Berrien Middle School band director showcases her passion for classic country in venues throughout South Georgia. Raised in the City of Dogwoods and now calling Sparks home, the brunette balladeer caught the entertainment bug early on. “I started singing when I was five years old and learned to play the guitar at age nine,” Kendrick exclusively discloses. “I remember singing ‘It Had to Be You’ in my first grade musical play, The Tom Thumb Wedding.

“Mrs. Mary Earnest Houston was our music teacher, and we auditioned for the singing parts. I was selected for a solo and was thrilled to pieces — no nerves whatsoever. Also, in the Christmas program that year I sang Loretta Lynn’s ‘To Heck with Ole Santa Claus’ and ‘A Good Ol’ Country Christmas.’

“The first song I learned to sing and play on my Silvertone sunburst guitar was ‘Detroit City’ by Bobby Bare. I could also pick Connie Smith’s ‘I Never Once Stopped Loving You’ on the guitar. I later got pretty good at delivering Tammy Wynette’s ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ and sang that when I was in the seventh grade for the New Lois Community Center meetings.

Connie Smith, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, Leona Williams, Dolly Parton, and of course Loretta are my primary country influences. There’s a strong chance that I will be singing some of their songs anytime you see me live. As far as a country artist currently on the rise, I’d have to say I really like Mo Pitney. Larry Black of RFDtv’s Country’s Family Reunion and Larry’s Country Diner has really supported Mo.

“In 2016 I recorded my self-titled classic country record in Nashville, Tennessee. What a pleasure it was to make my debut album — just a dream come true. Buck Jarrell, the guy that engineered my album at Buck’s Place Recording in Nashville, incidentally plays bass for Bobby Bare. My producer was Bobby G. Rice, who wrote ‘You Lay So Easy on My Mind’ and had a Top 3 country hit with it in 1973. It was such a thrill for him to be a special guest at my CD release party in Nashville. Email me, tdkendrick@bellsouth.net, if you’d like to buy a copy. I’ll go in the studio soon to start my second album.

“I bring my band wherever I play — Larry Bullock on steel, Jerry Armstrong on electric guitar, Randy Rowan on bass, and my uncle Jerry Griffin on drums. I’ve been singing locally forever but put this band together just before I retired five years ago. They are some awesome players.

“Singing with a regional band for concerts and special events has always been a joy to me. My degree in music is from Valdosta State University and I’m a retired band director. I taught band at Berrien Middle School for 34 years. My husband is Royce Kendrick, and we have a 30-year-old son and a 28-year-old daughter.”

© Jeremy Roberts, 2016, 2019. All rights reserved. To touch base, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way. I appreciate it sincerely.

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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