EMORY, Va. — Meet the Ledgerwoods, a local musical couple making a joyful noise every chance they get.
David and Ann Ledgerwood of Emory, Virginia, are finding a balance to their professional work lives by singing together in the community.
David has loved music since he was a child and would sing himself to sleep every night. His spark for music started at a young age when his father sold Christmas cards one year in order to buy his son his first guitar.
His wife, Ann Ledgerwood, is a talented musician in her own right. Ann has always been musically inclined. She took piano lessons as a child and enjoyed singing in church choirs with her two sisters.
Together, the couple is sharing their musical talents at local venues in the area.
Usually once a month, the duo can be found performing at Blackbird Bakery at 188 Piedmont Ave. in Bristol, Virginia, where their Friday Fun with the Ledgerwoods live show is attracting audiences of all ages to their eclectic sounds that span many genres. They are winning local fans with a mixture of styles from bluegrass, blues, folk and the ’70s. Many of the songs they perform are original works by David.
“People seem to enjoy us because we sing a lot of the songs they know,” said Ann, who sometimes gets audience participation during a performance. “If I see some kids in the audience who look engaged with our singing, I invite them to come up and sing along. We sing fun songs like the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ and kids and their parents really love it.
“The song appeals to the Virginia Tech fans. But we never sing that song without singing ‘Rocky Top’ for the Tennessee fans,” she laughed.
David, a singer and songwriter, finds inspiration from the simpler things of life. He has produced a CD of original songs about snapping turtles, porch dogs and other whimsical things.
He performs many of his original songs from his CD “Mississippi Snapper,” including the title track.
The lyrics of his songs often come to him when least expected, he said.
“When I wrote the title song ‘Mississippi Snapper,’ I was out for an afternoon walk. The ideas for the lyrics just started coming. It’s about a love affair between two snapping turtles,” he said with a laugh.
“Mississippi Snapper just tooling on down the road, making like lightning gonna pass that Mississippi toad. Sad snappin’ boy’s got his jaw down on the ground, traveling’s lonesome without his snapping girl around,” said David, reciting the words to the original song. “At the end, they find a preacher, get married and settle down.”
His creativity knows no bounds, it seems. David sometimes entertains audiences with his own version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
One song people always love is “Mustang Sally,” a rhythm and blues song written in the 1960s.
“When we play that song at the bakery,” said Ann, “we see people standing in line for doughnuts, and they just start dancing.”
The musical couple describe themselves as “children of the ’70s,” enjoying the pop hits from that era.
“Remember the Doobie Brothers song ‘Black Water’?” asked Ann. “Sometimes we sing that one. People just love it and sing along.”
They often surprise their audiences with more modern songs like “Cry” by Jon Batiste.
In addition to playing in the Bristol venue, the Ledgerwoods share songs in churches, singing a variety of styles of traditional and contemporary Christian music, as well as original songs. They also play for weddings and private parties.
But their favorite place to play is at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee. As guests of the Hands and Feet Ministries, which provides a program ministry there, the couple sings songs to the inmates several times a year.
“They are so appreciative because they don’t have a lot bringing them joy right now,” said Ann. “We just love singing together, and we love sharing music with all people.”
Their unique musical talents are getting noticed around town.
The couple were the first-place winners of the Bluegrass category in the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival for 2014 and 2015 with the songs “Glory Bound” and “Daddy’s Light.”
David was the first-place winner of the pop/rock category in 2016 with “You’re the Only One” and second-place winner of the folk category in 2018 with “Mississippi Snapper.” He also was a finalist in the Tennessee Songwriters Week 2020 and performed “Kind Woman” in the competition at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, in 2020. David also has entered a song in the Tennessee Songwriters Week Contest for 2023.
David’s love for music includes electric blues, and the couple also plays with the Ledgerwood Blues Band at local venues, including Delta Blues BBQ in Bristol, Tennessee, and Wolf Hills Brewing in Abingdon.
If that’s not enough to keep them busy, the couple also hosts the Retroclectic Radio Show on WEHC 90.7 FM from 8 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday from the campus of Emory & Henry College.
David works for Highlands Community Services, coordinating programs that strengthen families and provide early childhood education. A Project Dad program helps men develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills they need to get and stay involved with their children. Parenting classes help parents gain overall parenting skills and better understand their child’s behaviors.
Ann has worked as a pediatric physical therapist for 42 years, assisting Highlands Community Services, Mount Rogers Community Services and Smyth County Public Schools. She’s also an adjunct instructor at Emory & Henry College, where she assists in teaching pediatrics.
Last year, Ann became involved in helping to establish Mended Women Lifestyle Recovery, a 54-bed facility in Abingdon created for women who need healing from substance use disorder. She is a member of the Washington County Women’s Housing Coalition, which formed to spearhead the community project. If the remaining funding is secured in the near future, the facility could be open in early 2023.