As a solo performer accompanied by his guitar, Richard Hurley writes and sings songs inspired by events of his Western North Carolina home. He has served as a regular master of ceremonies and presenter at Asheville-area events, including Shindig on the Green, the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, the Lunsford Festival, and Folkmoot. Richard grew up in Canton, NC and graduated from Canton High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During the Vietnam War era, Richard served an active duty assignment in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier, the USS WASP, working on the staff of JFK’s personal Naval Aide. Upon separation from the military, he was employed with Square D Company – now Schneider Electric – as Human Resources Manager for thirty-four years.
As an early retiree, Richard is very involved in volunteer work in Asheville and serves on a number of boards across Western North Carolina. He has also become more active with his song writing, recording, and musical performing in retirement. Being a product of the Folk Era of the 1960s, Richard began playing and singing songs by the Kingston Trio and other folk groups popular during that time. The late singer Jimmy Haynie from Canton was a National Folk Song champion in the 1950s, and he was major inﬂuence on Richard. Prior to his military service, he and Jimmy worked together as DJ’s at radio station WPTL in Canton where Richard gained a great appreciation for country and bluegrass music. Jimmy was a regular entertainer at the Pisgah View Ranch for many years and upon his passing, Richard assumed his spot performing a family show there for 17 years.
During his time at the radio station, Richard featured local musicians, including the late legendary banjo player, Raymond Fairchild, who became a lifelong friend and musical inspiration. Richard was asked by the Fairchild family to deliver Raymond’s eulogy, and he considers it an unequaled honor. While in college, Richard began writing songs about his experiences in the mountains of Western North Carolina. In 1981, he recorded his song “The Ballad of Old Fort Mountain” which gained regional prominence. The track included himself on rhythm guitar, Fairchild on banjo, Arvil Freeman on ﬁddle, and The Crowe Brothers on guitar and bass.
Richard still performs regularly at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and the Shindig-on-the-Green. He donates his show to silent auctions for non-proﬁts and plays regularly as a volunteer for a number of senior citizen venues, in addition to performing for-proﬁt programs.
In 2013, Richard dug into his ﬁles and recorded some of the songs he had written over the years. He teamed up with multi-talented musician, Josh Goforth, and well-known studio engineer and CEO of Regal Media Group, Eddie Swann, to record the album My Mountains, My Songs, which earned the Paul Green Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians for the historic significance of his original songs. Richard remains active in the region and enjoys performing and helping promote the musical culture and local musicians. According to Richard, “A most flattering legacy would be that some of my ballads would be considered ‘Folk Songs’ a hundred years from now!”