Of the 60 members of The Virginia Opry, four serve as emcees for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official Opry, and Alfred “Mustard” Dearing, Sr. and Johnny King were born on October 22.
Dearing, the bishop of CAYA Ministries on Ridgeway St. in Clifton Forge, moved from the Washington D.C. area to Clifton Forge. He was inducted into The Virginia Opry as an emcee and radio personality, prior to Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters’ “Be My Valentine Show at The Virginia Opry” on Feb. 4, at The Historic Masonic Theatre.
Dearing is host of “Precious Memories Gospel Hour” on WKEY Radio Station’s 103.5 Big Country, from 8:30 a.m. till 9:30 a.m. each Sunday.
Johnny King, a virtuoso guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, was born in Clifton Forge but moved away. He formed a rock band in Fla. titled the Box Rockers.
Upon his recent return to the Alleghany Highlands, he founded the Alleghany Highlands Blues Society, and he was inducted into The Virginia Opry before the “Patsy Meets Elvis at The Virginia Opry,” a sold-out show at the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel and Conference Center on Aug. 12, featuring Michael Hoover paying tribute to Elvis and Denise Glass paying tribute to Patsy Cline.
King is the music director of The Virginia Opry, and he has formed a house band, the 12th band for The Virginia Opry that debuted on Oct. 17, 1992, in the Historic Stonewall Theatre that Appalfolks of America Association owned and operated for 12 years before donating the theatre to the Town of Clifton Forge in 2003.
During the time Appalfolks owned and operated the theatre, King brought his band from Florida to the theatre where his Box Rockers performed a benefit concert for Billy Berberette, a bass guitarist and vocalist who is also a member of The Virginia Opry.
Berberette, who played bass and performed as a vocalist for many years with The Virginia Opry, has become a member of Appalfolks’ board of directors as has King.
The other two emcees for The Virginia Opry are Jana Allen, a vocalist who made her debut in the Historic Stonewall Theatre as a 6th grader and who has pursued an acting career that has enabled her to appear in more than two dozen movies and on several TV shows, and Glen Shelton, a Nashville recording artist and winning songwriter who is the leader of one of The Virginia Opry’s 12 bands.