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Nichols Family's CD Embodies West Virginia

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Nichols Family's CD Embodies West Virginia

Music Reviews

Nichols Family's CD Embodies West Virginia

Nichols Family's CD Embodies West Virginia

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The Nichols Family is a country gospel trio whose first, and perhaps only, CD was released by The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Mother Marshalene Nichols and her daughters aren't Hall of Fame inductees like Hazel Dickens or Red Sovine, but their music still embodies the Mountain State.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Finally this hour, a country gospel trio from West Virginia. The debut album by the Nichols Family has been released by the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. The Nichols Family hasn't been inducted into the hall of fame, but our critic Meredith Ochs says they embody West Virginia.

MEREDITH OCHS: Driving along the New River, a couple of hours from his home in Charleston, West Virginia Music Hall of Fame director Michael Lipton spotted a sign promising hot dogs and music. He followed the road and saw three women singing on the riverbank, and this is what he heard.

(Soundbite of music)

THE NICHOLS FAMILY (Music Group): (Singing) Sometimes we get a faith of mind to judge a brother. Inside and out of everyone God makes a star. Lend a helping hand and lift your arms to Jesus. Look in the mirror, the real meaning's in your heart.

OCHS: Nichols family matriarch Marshalene Nichols grew up in a small mining town. She and her brothers would sing by the side of the railroad tracks for workers hauling coal. She'd been singing and writing ever since.

Marshalene wrote 11 of the 12 songs on this CD, inspired by her faith and by West Virginia itself. She wrote the title track after watching water run slowly down a mountain and imagined that the mountains were crying.

(Soundbite of music)

THE NICHOLS FAMILY: (Singing) The rocks and the mountains will cry out if we don't pray (unintelligible) even the ocean could roar at the praise. Let a song in your heart cry out to the one whose worthy of praise every day.

OCHS: The music of The Nichols Family captures the essence of life in West Virginia: from vast, scenic beauty to coal mines and poverty; from fire-and-brimstone fatalism to hope. Marshalene Nichols' songs are filled with love of nature, God and family. But she believed that something better lay ahead. And at age 71, before the CD came out, she left this life to find it.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MARSHALENE NICHOLS (Singer): (Singing) There's a place where I want to go, where I'll live after this. There'll never be no sorrow. All is happiness. And I'm moving out. I can't stay here any longer. So excuse me, world, the lord's power is much stronger.

THE NICHOLS FAMILY: (Singing) Excuse me, world, I'm gonna live for Jesus. There's nothing you can do to hinder me.

BLOCK: The CD is called "A Cry from the Mountains" by The Nichols Family. Our reviewer Meredith Ochs is a talk show host and DJ with Sirius satellite radio.

(Soundbite of music)

THE NICHOLS FAMILY: (Singing) …your painted picture I can't see.

Ms. NICHOLS: (Singing) A light shone down from heaven much brighter than the sun. And I'm on my way. There's great works to be done. All you have is darkness…

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