If, as Wanda Barnett, of Richmond says, music is “a gift from God,” she’s a woman with many blessings.
From even before her teens when her brother, John, gifted her with a guitar, which she confesses got her “hooked” on singing and song writing, music has been an integral part of her life. Her sister, Glenda, was a music teacher, and even before her teen years, Wanda studied piano, violin and guitar.
A native of Indiana, Wanda came to Richmond in 1976 to attend Eastern Kentucky university, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education, and a Master of Arts in education with an emphasis in music.
It was in 1982 that she joined The New Coon Creek Girls, a Kentucky band that she described as “an old time string band.” The group was a new incarnation of the original The Coon Creek Girls, founded in 1937 by Renfro Valley founder John Lair. Lair had also founded the new band, of which she was a member from 1982 to 1992, playing fiddle and guitar and doing vocals and tenor and harmony vocals.
We toured all of the eastern half of the United States and Canada,” she said. They even played the Bahamas, thanks to a stint on a cruise ship. During those years, the group played Bluegrass festivals, recorded five albums, and made several appearances on the famed Grand Ol’ Opry.
“Doing shows with the Coons now – I just love it”, says Wanda, “We always had fun and played and sang good music before, but now it all means more after all we’ve been through and the time apart. Now we can just relax and be ourselves and have more fun than ever”.
Once a year Wanda hosts a special event at Renfro Valley called “Fiddlin’ in the Valley” bringing together fiddlers of all ages. She gives private music lessons out of her Richmond home, teaching the violin and fiddle, children’s guitar the mandolin, and the ukulele with students ranging in age from five to 70 years of age. She has about 50 regular students and still has some openings for more. Wanda is an integral part of the Praise Team at her church and spends time on “in-home” ministry visits and still finds time to be in a western swing Hillbilly-Jazz group out of Lexington, Kentucky.
Wanda shares her home with a St. Bernard and Great Pyrenees, two very large dogs, and three cats. Wanda confesses that had she not found a life in music, she probably would have dedicated her life rescuing abused and neglected dogs.
If you are interested in taking music lessons you can email Wanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.