Praise the Lord and Pass the Earplugs
Adel Georgia - Ferrell Carnby has loved music since he was a child.
"I've always wanted to make music. Ever since I was a young boy, I loved singing and would turn on the radio and sing along with it. I'd get my mamma's pots and pans and beat on them with spoons and just make the biggest ruckus you ever heard! I begged and begged for a guitar for my 9th birthday and when they finally got me one I near about plucked and strummed my fingers down to the bone. Problem was I just couldn't learn the notes. My parents couldn't afford no teacher for me but they bought sheet music and I tried my hardest to learn how to play but it was just too hard for me. I finally sat that guitar in the corner of my room one day and just cried my heart out.."
Ferrell recreates the day when God told him to shoot the sun with a gun
But Ferrell refused to give up.
"I was at a blue grass show in Valdosta when I was 15 or 16 and was sure that the mandolin was what I was born to play. I got a job working at the Piggly Wiggly just so I could save up money to buy one for myself. After I got it I learned it was the same old story, I just couldn't learn to make music with it. I put that one away and about that time my grandfather and dad was killed in a car accident so I had to work on the farm with Mamma. My Grandmother came to live with us and she brought my granddad's old dulcimer. I tried it but it turned out just as same as the others. Finally I just gave up on all of them. I still wanted to play but I just didn't have the talent."
That all changed when Ferrell had a dream on his 30th birthday.
"I was asleep in bed but in my dream I was walking across a great big field of peanuts. I was all alone and as far as I could see there was nothing but peanut plants stretching from horizon to horizon. Well I decided to pick one so I could eat a peanut but when I pulled up the plant there was a guitar attached to it instead of peanuts! I pulled up another and there was granddad's dulcimer. I kept doing it and there was fiddles and guitars under each and every one of them. Finally I saw a tractor coming toward me and it was plowing up the rows of peanut plants and leaving great big piles of guitars, violins, and banjos, behind it. It stopped right in front of me and God got out carrying a shotgun. He looked just like old man Grayson who lives down the road from us but I knew it was God. God walked right up to me and said 'What do you think you're doing tearing up my field?' I said, 'I'm sorry God but I was trying to find something to eat.' God said, 'You can't just pull up the plants and expect a harvest, you have to work for it.' And then God handed me his shotgun and said, 'Shoot the sun every day for six days. Rest and think of me on the seventh. On the eighth day you will have this field.' And then I woke up."
Not one to waste time, Ferrell took the advice he was given in the dream and shot at the sun six days in a row with his father's old shotgun.
"I always shot it at high noon, cause that's when the sun is at it's fullest. On the seventh day I told Mom I was sick and couldn't work. I just lay in bed all day and prayed to God and thanked him for the gift he was going to give to me. I was itching to get a hold of that guitar laying in the corner but I didn't dare touch it. Finally I fell asleep and when I woke up the next day I grabbed my guitar that I hadn't picked up in 10 years and I could play it! I tried the dulcimer and then the mandolin and I could play them all. I went downstairs and told my grandmother and Mamma and played for them and they just sat and stared!"
Ferrell's determined to repay his gift from the Lord by spreading the good word whenever he can.
"Once a week they have that kareoke thing down at the bar-b-q place. I go there and sing and play and try to tell everyone how God will help you if you'll just do what he wants. I started going to grandma's church too and got Mamma into going. Some Sundays they let me get up and sing and play a hymn in front of the congregation. Everybody says I've been blessed and I know it's true!"
I had the opportunity to hear Ferrell play and sing. All I can say is that God has a weird sense of humor. - Derek
interview with Ferrell Carnby, November 3rd-4th, 1999
photos by Derek Barnes