In the fourth episode of the Pocahontas County Opera House Story Sessions series, Homer Hunter shared tales about growing up in a musical family in Boone County.
He began with a story of his father’s redemption – going from convicted felon to minister. The elder Hunter grew up in a moonshining family and at the age of 18, was shot. He spent time in prison and when he met his wife, he found his calling to be a minister.
“My mother basically led my dad to Christ, and he changed from a very bad guy to a very good guy,” Hunter said. “He never told me until I was almost fourteen years old what happened. He felt like he was called to be a minister, and I think he was. He preached at little churches – post World War II. He would go into communities and open little churches.
“He’d start those little churches up, get them going good and find some energetic young man that wanted to pastor, and he’d put him there and he’d move on,” Hunter continued. “We did that quite a The elder Hunter also held tent revivals and had his children help with the music. Amazingly enough, Homer didn’t join his siblings in making music.
“My family all sang except for me,” he said. “I never sang as far as like I’m doing now until I was almost thirty years old. I don’t know why. Both my sisters played piano for my dad at revival meetings and church. One time he wanted me to take piano lessons. I wished a many a time I had – to learn the music – but I chose not to do that because I knew I’d be hooked to him.
“I didn’t want to go to church all the time,” he added.
Homer’s older brother, Hansel – who went by Hal – was also musically inclined and, in fact, wrote the first song Homer performed called My Daddy Did His Job for the Lord.
“My older brother in California, his name is Hal Hunter, he was in the Air Force,” Hunter said. “He got in a band, and they had a contest in the Air Force. I think I’m right on this, he won first place and got to be on the Ed Sullivan Show, which was a pretty big honor. He wanted to go to Nashville to make it, and I’m sad to say he didn’t.”
Hal lives in Warm Springs, South Dakota, and although he never became a country music star, he did write music that mattered.
The song, My Daddy Did His Job for the Lord, is about the elder Hunter and his life as a minister.
Hunter kept with the theme of religious music and performed a gospel song dear to his heart called Mama Gave Me to Jesus.
He closed the session with a classic hymn Hunter often plays with his band, the Stony Bottom Bluegrass Boys, – Will the Circle Be Unbroken.
The video of Homer Hunter’s Story Session is available on the Pocahontas County Opera House Facebook and YouTube pages.
The next Story Session will be Sunday, July 31, at 7 p.m. featuring Mary Sue Burns.