GRAFTON—In preparation of one of Grafton’s most notable and attended celebrations, City Manager Kevin Stead has recently revealed the artist that will be headlining festivities for the Spirit of Grafton Festival.
In 2017, country music superstar Darryl Worley took to the Sprint stage and wowed the crowd during the town’s annual Memorial Day weekend celebrations.
According to Stead, that performance pulled in a larger audience than any others before or after.
“Darryl is really a perfect fit for the event. His patriotic songs meshed well with our Memorial Day celebration, and he was very well received by the community,” he noted.
Stead shared that since his appearance those three years ago, has had several individuals request the return of Worley.
Those requests combined with the success of his first visit, paired with Worley’s desire to return to the quaint small town, ultimately led Stead and the City of Grafton to invite Worley back once more.
During an interview with Worley from his 2017 visit, he was exhilarated about being in Grafton, commenting on how great the townspeople had been to him and his team and gushing over the rich history Grafton holds.
Worley was welcomed to town with a tour of both the West Virginia National Cemetery and the Grafton National Cemetery, along with a stroll through the International Mother’s Day Shrine.
“It is an honor being in a town that has not one, but two National Cemeteries,” said Worley while here in 2017. “They were so beautiful and majestic. You can just tell the amount of pride this town has for their country and those who fought for it.”
Before departing that year, he revealed that his time in Grafton was definitely one to remember, and that he hoped to return for the celebration once more, and also expressed his desire to have his family make the trip with him.
“Over the years, I have played at a lot of Memorial Day celebrations, but I haven’t seen one quiet like this before. This celebration is just awesome,” he expressed.
When Stead reached out to Worley’s booking agent about returning for this year’s celebration, acceptance was nearly instantaneous.
Worley was born and raised in the southern parts of Tennessee by a Methodist minister and a church-choir mother, whom he describes as a “prayer warrior”.
He began his musical career at the FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, under the instruction of producer/publisher Rick Hall (Mac Davis, Jerry Reed), where he remained for five years.
Throughout those early startup years, he played clubs almost nightly, honing his stage craft at the same time he was perfecting his songwriting skills, and as Worley grew more confident, he found his way to Nashville, calling himself a traditionalist and wishing to follow in the footsteps of his mentors, Merle Haggard and George Jones.
It was there that he secured a recording deal in 1999 on the basis of some demo recordings that showcased his influential vocals and his understanding of the hard-working country audience.
21 years later, Worley has entertained sold out crowds across the globe, has produced over 20 hit singles and has had several chart-topping hits, all while remaining a humble country man, spending time with his wife and daughter and performing charity work.
Since his last visit, Worley released a new album titled “Second Wind: Latest and Greatest”.
The 15-track collection features fresh takes on past number one hits like “Have You Forgotten,” “Awful Beautiful Life,” “I Miss My Friend” and more, along with seven new tunes.
“When he was here before, he had a really good time. Not only did he performed at the Spirit of Grafton, but after the show, he entertained folks at the Strand Pool Room. He enjoyed himself and we enjoyed having him,” Stead commented.
Stead revealed that he is hopeful that Worley will be able to allot enough time in his schedule to visit Tygart Lake State Park and take in the beautiful scenery of the lake on a boat.
“Nothing is confirmed yet but that is our hope. He has also mentioned bringing his family, and maybe staying in the area to see our Memorial Day parade. We are ready to accommodate them any way possible. If there is somewhere else he wants to pay a visit, we will make it happen,” he announced.
Worley is slated to make his return to the Sprint Stage, as the headlining act for the 15th Annual Spirit of Grafton, on Saturday, May 23, at 8:00 p.m.
This is sure to be a show you won’t want to miss.
Although the COVID-19 outbreak is currently effecting the lives of every United States citizen, with businesses closing their doors, schools shutting down and events across the nation being cancelled, Stead is hopeful that the Spirit of Grafton will continue as scheduled.
“At this time, the festival has not been canceled. Considering that is 9-10 weeks away we have time to monitor COVID-19, and will make a decision closer to the date,” he informed.