Southern Accent is a regionally-known bluegrass gospel group from Watauga and Avery counties. Since 1994, they have presented their music in churches, festivals, and family-oriented venues. They have performed at Merlefest, the Doc Watson Appreciations Days (now called MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove), Todd Community festivals, Grayson Highlands Festival, Paramount Theatre in Bristol, the Wayne Henderson Festival, Singing on the Mountain at Grandfather Mountain, and Concerts on the Lawn at the Jones House in Boone. They have frequently performed on the Hometown Opry radio program out of Wilkesboro and Gospel Melodies television program out of Mountain Television Network in Boone. They have opened for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and were invited to play the Doc Watson’s 80th birthday celebration. The group has made numerous recordings with different configurations over the years.
Core members include:
Dennis Isaacs – Dennis started learning guitar at age eight and remembers “Wildwood Flower” as the first song he learned to play. His musical influences have come from both family and community. Dennis played with Doc Watson in the Blue Ridge Ramblers, and he cites Doc as especially influential in his musical development. Dennis has become a well-respected finger-picking and flat-picking guitarist. He sings lead and harmony parts with the band and helps arrange songs.
Paulette Isaacs – Paulette learned to play music from her husband, Dennis, around 1992. “I had to learn something so I could share my husband’s favorite pastime,” says Paulette. She began singing in church when she was very young, and she sings lead and harmony with the band. Her grandmother played clawhammer banjo, dulcimer, and guitar, and her uncle played guitar. Paulette plays an acoustic Kay upright bass and sings with the group.
Connie Norris – Connie was greatly influenced and encouraged by their father, Auborn Trivette, who was a musician all his life and was well-respected as a bluegrass musician in the area. Her musical development was shaped by hearing their father and his friends play into the late hours of the night and falling asleep to those sounds. Connie plays rhythm guitar with the band.
Other members have included Robby Norris and Gary Trivette. The 2012 line-up includes Leonard Arnold on resophonic guitar and Mike Murphy on mnadolin.
Southern Accent is available for performances in churches, at festivals, and other concerts and family-friendly environments. They perform eighty to ninety shows per year. The band has announced that it plans to retire at the end of 2012.