A prominent member of Asheville’s traditional music scene since moving to Western North Carolina in the early 1990s, Cary Fridley is well known both as a singer and an instrumentalist. She grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Covington, Virginia, and there was exposed both to traditional and classical music. A visit to the Mount Airy, North Carolina, Fiddler’s Convention led to Fridley’s becoming a member of the Freight Hoppers in 1994, as that band was becoming one of the country’s leading old- time groups.
By 2000, Fridley was living in Asheville, and had embarked on a career as a solo artist and band leader. The genres of music in which she performs have always been eclectic, including jazz, honkytonk, and Cajun, as well as old-time music. Of particular interest to Fridley are the ballad traditions of Madison County, and she has recorded songs from the repertoires of Sodom Laurel-area legends Dellie Norton and Dillard Chandler. She is also in demand as a music instructor, and draws from the training she received while pursuing her Master’s degree in Music Education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Today, Cary Fridley performs and records solo, as well as with several bands. She leads Cary Fridley and Down South, a country-Western band featuring Dave Perkins on electric guitar, Lynn Netherton on pedal steel, and Ben Bjorlie on drums. She and Scott Sharpe play blues and jazz as the Asheville Aces, and with Dave Perkins she performs jazz as Photet. In the Haywood Ramblers, she plays traditional Western North Carolina music with Haywood County native Travis Stuart, a widely renowned old-time banjo player. Fridley teaches music workshops throughout the year, and is working on an instructional book, The Acoustic Singer, to share techniques common to folk vocal styles around the world, and especially in Appalachia.