I had the opportunity to interview Roger Talley before a Talley Trio concert last fall. One thing led to another, and it took this long to get it up. But it’s worth the wait. For a formatted version of the interview, click here.
DJM: Could you start by explaining how you became interested in Southern Gospel?
Roger: I grew up in a little church in East Tennessee that sang what we call Southern Gospel music, and it was just just music out of the red Church Hymnal—the one that Gerald Wolfe uses and sings out of—so that’s the kind of music that I was familiar with.
My parents sang in several church quartets, with a couple of other men from our community. As soon as I could play the piano, I got, as I always say, “roped in” to playing for their quartet, or their trio at church.
I could do that without even hardly thinking about it. The songs were easy and I had heard them all my life. My mom always used to say that I would sit at the piano and read a comic book at the same time I was playing for them! So it shows how much attention I was really giving the song, I guess!
DJM: How old were you at this time?
Roger: I started playing piano—started taking lessons when I was in the sixth grade, so that would be about twelve years old, I guess. I took lessons for a couple of years and quit, just . . . I didn’t think I was learning anything, and I just wasn’t that interested in it.
I could play by ear, but I just didn’t want to practice and learn the hard stuff, I guess. It was always a war to get me to practice, and finally they let me quit. And then later on, I became interested in it again, and just sat down and kinda taught myself. I never had any more lessons.
DJM: So did you continue just playing for your parents until you started with the Hoppers, or were you with any other groups in the interim?