Clyde Derberry was a young boy when his mom and two aunts drove him and a brother to musical venues across the Southeast. The women had a gospel trio that even performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville.
His dad had a musical bent, too, inviting buddies over for jam sessions in the family's living room. His dad taught Clyde to play the guitar when Clyde was 7.
Derberry now spreads the joy of music he picked up 50-odd years ago to audiences across the Lake Norman region.
He's one of the lake area's longest-performing singer-songwriters. He's played at about 20 venues since moving to Mooresville from Cabarrus County after the former Matsushita compressor plant hired him as a quality engineer in 1990.
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I first heard him at the former Java Jim's on Brawley School Road and then, over the years, at several other venues around town.
For the past year, he's performed at owner Mike Parker's 202 North Main Ltd. wine shop in a historic brick building downtown.
He's appeared at such Davidson venues as Summit Coffee, Sabi Asian Bistro and Campania Italian Café & Trattoria and performed at various Yadkin Valley wineries in recent years.
But Derberry, 59, rarely sings and plays alone. He's recognized as much for bringing artists together to promote their names and talents.
He's helped stage singer-songwriter showcases such as "Remembering the Beatles" in 2009 at the former Second Fret Coffeehouse & Music Hall in downtown Statesville.
And at least a half-dozen guest performers joined Derberry at one of his weekly "Unplugged on the Couch" sessions at 202 North Main in January.
They included Danny Hargis of Huntersville, Steve Dixon of Mount Ulla, Scotti Benge of Statesville and Jamie Kay of Mount Holly. Kay performed with the legendary Pete Seeger when Kay lived in Newburgh, N.Y.
Songs that night at 202 North Main included everything from the classic-rock version of "Seven Bridges Road" recorded by the Eagles in 1980, to "Amie" by the country-rock band Pure Prairie League in 1974.
"He's been pretty good to a lot of musicians, bringing them together and helping create this vibration," Kay said of Derberry, who's performed with 27 singer-songwriters at 202 North Main over the past year.
Derberry quickly garnered more fans that January night, including Peggy Ricke, 66, of Mooresville. "When he sings, it just stops me," Ricke said. "I mean that as a compliment."
The crowd at 202 North Main grew to nearly 40 people, fantastic for a Wednesday night, Parker said.
It included Derberry's wife, Marsha, who also loves to hear him sing and play. The couple has a son together, a daughter from Marsha's previous marriage, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
For the past two years, Derberry has worked as a development specialist at UNCCharlotte by day, but his passion has always been music.
As a boy, he also played drums, but accidentally broke them. "That ended the drumming career," he said with a grin. "Ringo had a chance after that."
He's recording his first CD at Rocky River Studios in Concord and said he will continue to bring more artists together, as he has for five years.
"I want to help promote the arts, get more recognition for the arts community," Derberry said.
Create a vibrant arts community, he said, and more people will move to and shop in an area such as downtown Mooresville.
"I believe 'music makes this world a better place,' and I'm seeing it happen on an ever increasing scale in Mooresville, North Carolina," he said.