For award-winning musician Hyram Posey life has always run on tracks of inspiration, and for years he worked on the railroad as an engineer.
Recently the songwriter and musician who lives in Dickson won the award for instrumentalist of the year from the Will Rogers Foundation in Oklahoma.
“I got back and found out I’m getting inducted into the Northwest Western Swing Hall of Fame in August,” he said. “I do a lot of session work. Play lots of shows like the ‘Music City Hayride’ at the Texas Troubadour Theatre, also with David Church on his road show, played with the Tennessee River Boys.”
But for Posey, a native of Alamogordo, N.M., life has also been a train wreck with 35 years working for the railroad.
In 2004, traveling at 70 mph, he hit a pickup truck parked on the crossing, and still suffers pain as a result of the crash.
“I retired after 35 years working for the railroad; ran Amtrak between El Paso and Tucson, Arizona for a while,” he said. “My story is kind of a twisted story with a train wreck. I lost use of my left arm and hand from 2004 to 2010. Thought I’d never play again. Wouldn’t go anywhere and got depressed. They flew me to Nashville in 2010 to judge a grand masters fiddlers contest. I was embarrassed because I couldn’t play.
But when I landed, I heard a voice in me that said, ‘You need to move to Nashville.’ I heard it twice. After I was here three days, I felt tingling in my fingers. Worked them. Feeling started coming back. Me and my wife (Carolyn) moved in March 2011, and I started to play again. Now I’m better than I was before.”
Posey had been flying in and out of Nashville for session work for at least 20 years before the move.
His musical journey began at age 7 when he started playing the piano. He then played the violin in the school orchestra at age 9.
“I started playing fiddle music around 1970, and it took off from there,” he said. “The first artist I worked with was Charley Pride, when I was about 14 years old. I did session work in L.A. and Nashville while working on the railroad. I love jazz and swing and even write New Age songs. I write and compose and record everything under the sun except for rap, I guess.”
Some of the artists he has worked with and admires are Ray Price, Faron Young and Marty Robbins.
“Things we’re calling country isn’t country, but there is a push for traditional to come back, and it’s refreshing to see a lot of young artists coming to town to do that,” he said, adding that it will take a movie like ”Urban Cowboy,” with a killer plot along with some younger singers doing traditional country to revive the genre.
He also talked about the origin of his name.
“Hyman is a Masonic name in the Bible for Hiram Abiff who was a builder for King Solomon’s Temple, and my last name is originally pronounced as ‘Poo-say.’ The family was French Huguenots that went to England and then the U.S. during the War of Independence and were granted land. There were three brothers, and they changed their name to Posey.”
He loves doing session work and likes playing lots of shows like the “Music City Hayride” at the Texas Troubadour Theatre in Nashville, as well as playing with David Church on his road show, playing with the Tennessee River Boys.
“Music is something that comes from your soul,” he said. “It’s a universal language that talks to all people. With instrumental music, it doesn’t matter what language you speak, they dig it. Music is also used a lot in surgery and with Alzheimer’s patients because it has such healing power.
My grandma was in a catatonic state for 12 years. My dad made me take my instrument one Christmas when we went to see her. She hadn’t said a word in 11-12 years. When I played for her, she raised her head up and said ‘Hyram is that you? I thought so.’ Then, she went back into that state.”
Posey has a catalogue of more than 100 songs.
He has played jazz with saxophonist Richie Cole, doing concerts in San Francisco and he even worked with legendary saxophonist Boots Randolph.
He loves creating New Age music and country and swing and soundtrack music as well as jazz.
“A new album just came out recently called ‘For the Love of Bob’,” he said. “It’s a tribute to legendary Bob Wills. I also admire Johnny Gimble and Junior Daugherty. And I like to listen to different styles from A to Z which helps me to find my own style.”
He also created music for the soundtrack of “The Verne Miller Story”, a film starring Scott Glenn.
“The creative process with music comes from the man upstairs in finished forms at a rate so fast it’s like trying to catch a glass of water that’s being thrown at you with a tennis racket,” he said. “There’s so much going by, that’s why you can’t catch it all.”
He still jokes about the impact of the train crash, which will continue to cause discomfort and pain from time to time.
“I have so many bolts and plates I’m like half an Ace Hardware store in my neck, hip, and ankle,” he said. “The music takes me away from the pain. It’s good medicine. I even have a spinal cord stimulator implanted.
His musical heroes include Jean Luc Ponty and MarK O’Connor. He gave lessons to O’Connor when he was a kid.
As for goals, he’d like to see a revival of instrumental music like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
“People say it’s not a song without words, but tell that to Beethoven,” he laughed. “I’d like to also revive the traditional music scene in Nashville and help artists out and write a lot of that type of music. Music is the language of the heart and soul. I want to record some more things, turn them loose, see what they do. For me, scoring for a film is an art form that’s intriguing, and I would love to do it. And also, I want to win a Grammy.”