Susie Avett has a family of performers.
Her husband, Jim, retired from his welding business, travels throughout the country singing and playing his guitar. Daughter Bonnie is a dancer and harmonizes with her father on stage whenever possible.
And of course, her sons are Scott and Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers.
But Susie “can’t carry a note in a bucket,” Jim said.
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Susie’s interests and talents are of a quieter variety. She likes needlework and is trying to “relearn” crochet, she said. A retired elementary school teacher, she’s an avid reader. She has passed her love of literature on to her children and grandchildren.
Susie Avett seems pleasantly surprised by the unexpected place to which life has brought her.
Susie and Jim have lived in the same house in eastern Cabarrus County for 34 years – something she never imagined she’d do. A self-proclaimed Army brat, she was born in Germany, where her father was stationed after World War II.
Her first memories are from South Dakota, but home also included Utah, Virginia, Kansas, West Point, N.Y, Washington, D.C., and, for her third-grade year, the Middle East nation of Turkey.
She met Jim in her junior year at UNC Greensboro; he was in the Navy, and they married when she graduated.
Three children followed, and Susie found herself “just like everybody else, doing the best we could” to raise their family.
They made sure their children did their best in school, went to church and followed up on their commitments. Susie said she and Jim tried to choose their battles and let the children pursue what they were really interested in.
In the Avett household, what often interested the children was music and performing. They all took piano lessons, and there were music and guitars all over the house.
“They were always putting on shows,” Susie said. They had what they called a “camp” in the woods behind the house, where, she suspects, they worked on their performances, though she really doesn’t know what they were up to.
Susie hasn’t stopped watching her family members perform, though the cast and locations for the performances have changed. She travels with Jim as much as she can and will spend part of this weekend at Bonnie’s daughter’s dance recital. And, of course, she makes it to several Avett Brothers concerts each year.
Has her sons’ success changed her life?
“It’s more fun,” she said, but other than that, she still lives the same way as always. She loves that her family has chosen to live close by, and she enjoys her grandchildren.
She doesn’t own a dishwasher. She loves to travel, but also loves coming home.
Her mother is her hero. She’s sometimes overwhelmed, she said, by the fine people her children have become, and she’s never annoyed when people ask about them.
Scott and Seth Avett are known to have family members join them on stage during concerts, but they’ve never called Susie out.
Seth asked recently whether she’d come if they called.
“I’d do it,” Susie said. “Just don’t mic me.”