Now usually, Forest has a shop full of customers on Saturday morning, but this past weekend was an exception. Forest’s chair was open. In the other barber chair sat a man that most everyone in Trigg County knows. That man was none other than Mr. James Ladd. It was shaping up to be the perfect Saturday. The sun was shining. There was no wait at the barber shop, and I knew Forest, James and I would soon be in a big discussion over some topic or another. Well, all of the above played out as expected.
My haircut ended about the same time as Mr. Ladd was getting ready to leave. We walked outside together and actually sat in his truck for a moment as I asked him for some advice on a matter or two. As we sat there, I was admiring the computerized screen on his new truck along with the CD player and such. I think I asked him to let me hear how the CD player sounded, so he punched play. There was already a CD in the player. Immediately, I did a giant double take. I thought that what I was hearing just couldn’t be possible. The CD player was playing a gospel song entitled “I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone.” The voice doing the singing was as smooth as silk. It was gentle, relaxing and easy on the ears. I could not get over how pretty the song was and how excellent the singer was. What I was really shocked by was that the voice on the CD belonged to none other than the big fellow sitting in the truck with me. The singer was Mr. James Ladd! I was amazed. Let me explain.
Apparently, Mr. Ladd really enjoys singing. The thing is, he just doesn’t sing much for other people. He sings around the house and such. His daughter Jeanie said, “Dad sings all the time at home. He sings in the house, in his truck and even on the tractor.” So a few months ago, Mr. Ladd’s three children – Jeanie, Jodi and Todd – gave him a special present for his 70th birthday. They paid for him to go to Lebanon, Tenn. and have two songs professionally recorded. Musicians went into the studio and recorded their part by playing the dobro, fiddle and mandolin. Then Mr. Ladd went in one day and sang to the music. Later on, Tom and Tina Dishman added the background vocals. When it was all put together and the CD produced ... well, you just have to listen to it to believe it. Along with the song mentioned above is the tune “I Want To Stroll Across Heaven With You.”
I obtained a copy from Mr. Ladd, and I have had the best time with it. I have had several people listen to it and then asked them who the singer was. Every listener said the same thing. “I don’t know who it is, but it sure is good.” When I told them who it was, they were really surprised. Oh yeah, one man did guess the identity of the singer. That was current Trigg County FFA teacher Jodie P’Pool. It took him a while, but he finally got it. I have already had people who have heard my copy say that they wanted a copy of their own.
Now I have got to sell Mr. Ladd on my next idea. He is a lock for America’s Got Talent. I will be his manager. You see, Mr. Ladd has always been a physical presence known for his strength. Decades ago, he and Dad were wrestling in the barber shop on a slow day. Needless to say, the next few weeks Dad was cutting hair with a few broken ribs. For years, Dad would laugh telling that story. So, back to the plan. I will send Mr. Ladd out in bib overalls, sort of like Rafe Hollister on the Andy Griffith show. Just when the crowd is expecting this rough rasping voice from the big fellow, he will win them over with his sweet vocals.
By the way, wish me luck on that project. I like to have never got his consent to just write the column on him. He didn’t want any attention drawn to his singing. I just wish there was some way I could make this column sing so you could hear it for yourself. All I know is that if a chicken farmer from Mayfield can win a national singing contest, then ... you never know.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to email@example.com.