Don't Forget to Dream!
by Dick McVey
You may or may not know that I grew up in West Virginia, just a few miles from Little Jimmy Dicken's
hometown in the heart of Appalachia. Although it is a poverty stricken area, I was more fortunate
than most and made my way to Nashville and to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and have performed
with major artists all across the US and around the world. I have offered to help a number of
talented people in that area make the big move to Nashville, but only a handful bothered to try. I
finally realized why and wanted to relate it to you in this writing.
This story has haunted me for some time, and I think it might just help someone who is thinking
about music as a career and are unsure of taking that big step of moving to Nashville.
A couple of years ago I was asked to return home to West Virginia and speak to a music class at my
old grade school. I decided to take some of the awards I had received over the years as an
incentive that might stimulate a future star.
After giving my talk and answering questions like "Do you know Tim McGraw?" I was approached by two
girls about 12 years old. They informed me they had written a song and would like to sing it for
me. I agreed and although the song was not in the league of Harlan Howard, I told them if they
would come to Nashville, I would pay to have the song recorded for them. The excitement in their
faces was worth the 8 hour drive I had just made. I asked them to talk with their parents about
bringing them to Nashville and let me know.
One of the girls was so enthused she immediately called her mom from the school office and returned
to tell me her mother was on her way to the school to talk with me about my offer. I thought this
must be one of those stage mothers anxious for her daughter to have this wonderful opportunity, but
once the mother arrived I realized she was irate that I dared to plant such a dream in her
daughter's mind. She made a statement that shocked me - she said "We've taught our children not to
dream that big because we don't want them to be disappointed." I was speechless, but went on to
explain to her that I had attended school there and had gone on to live my dreams. I had no impact
on her feelings, and as a result there will be two young girls who may never dare to dream again.
It is a sad statement. Who knows how many potential great singers, songwriters and musicians that
will be lost to this attitude. I started thinking back and realized I faced quite a bit of
resistance and negativity myself when I told my parents and friends I was leaving the hills to move
to Nashville. My parents feared the music business because of the alcohol and drugs, but I never
did either. My friends seemed to fear the rejection, and although I have dealt with it, it always
made me work harder and get better. Once I started playing on the Grand Ole Opry I had relatives
coming out of the woodwork to attend shows and visit Nashville.
If you are a musician, singer and/or songwriter and you read this piece I hope you will not be
deterred by people who don't understand creative people aka "dreamers." If you are a parent I hope
you will encourage your children to dream big and help them achieve those dreams in whatever field.
I read once that in order to live your dreams you must first wake up. Leroy Van Dyke once told me
"To be happy in life you have to do what you love and get good enough at it that people pay you do
Both of those statements have been a big part of my success. I hope this article will wake a
few people up. If you talk to anyone who is successful in this business you will find they all had
to take that risky first step so what are you waiting for?
9 Music Square South
Nashville, TN 37203
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