Albert Brumley’s Memory Valley

Mike's Creek Valley by Mid-Life Blogger

I’m blessed to live in a naturally beautiful area of southwest Missouri, in a region known as the Ozarks. I love everything about it; the hills and valleys, the rocks, the trees, and the crystal-clear creeks. There is also a lot of history here. Our most famous resident was Albert Brumley.

Claim to Fame

If you aren’t familiar with his name, then you might be familiar with some of the songs that he wrote, such as “Jesus Hold My Hand,” “Turn Your Radio On,” and the most famous of all, “I’ll Fly Away.” It was featured in the 2000 movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and earned a platinum record as a result.

"O Brother Where Art Thou?" Platinum Record by MId-Life Blogger
“O Brother Where Art Thou?” Platinum Record

“I’ll Fly Away” has been recorded thousands of times by musicians from a range of genres, such as Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch, Jars of Clay, Alan Jackson, Andy Griffith, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Michael W. Smith, and Randy Travis. Elvis Presley sang Brumley’s song, “If We Ever Meet Again,” at his mother’s funeral as it was her favorite song.

Albert wasn’t born in here in Powell. He visited in the late 1920s to hold a singing school. It was then that he met and fell in love with Goldie Schell. They were married on the bank of Mike’s Creek and settled down here to raise their family. “Memory Valley” became Albert’s nickname for the area.

Albert and Goldie Brumley on Mid-Life Blogger
Albert and Goldie Brumley, courtesy of Brumley Music Company
Brumley Home
Brumley Home, courtesy of Brumley Music Company

There on their homestead by the creek, Albert would grab whatever was handy when inspiration struck, whether it be a napkin, a brown paper sack, or the back of some wallpaper. At times, he even awoke in the middle of the night with ideas. Albert’s son, Bob, laughingly says that they are still finding scraps with his father’s scrawled notes. Even he has lost count of exactly how many songs his father wrote, but somewhere over 800.

Albert lived the remainder of his life in Powell and is buried in nearby Fox Cemetery.  In his honor, the highway that runs through Powell was named the Albert Brumley Memorial Highway.

Albert Brumley Memorial Highway sign from Mid-Life Blogger
Albert Brumley Memorial Highway sign

Brumley Music Company still has an office in Powell and is run by Albert’s son, Bob Brumley. Albert’s songs live on, and to honor his legacy the Brumley Gospel Sing is held annually in August.

It’s easy for me to see how Albert was so richly inspired here in his beloved Memory Valley. I feel close to God here in its natural beauty, and I feel that he must have also, as evidenced by his prolific writing of Southern Gospel music.

Update

“I’ll Fly Away” was used extensively in the 2016 movie, Greater.

Related Reading

Greater Inspiration ~ An Interview with David Hunt

I’ll Fly Away in Greater Role

Helpful Links:

Video of Bob Brumley talking about Brumley Gospel Sing

Brumley Music Company website

Albert Brumley’s songbooks are available at the Brumley Music Store.

Albert Brumley's Memory Valley

Comments

  1. Rene

    When we moved here in 1982..we attended several of the “hill and hollow festivals”… I remember seeing Kitty Wells and also saw Little Jimmy Dickens….good memories…used to sit on the porch in the valley and listen, when we couldn’t be there….

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  2. Janell

    That’s beautiful Michelle. It is a beautiful area and I love how you show him respect by having get togethers singing his songs.

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  3. Sarah

    What a wonderful post! I was very lucky in that my Daddy JE Cowan was born and raised in Powell, and he grew up with the Brumley’s. I remember the Hill and Hollow festivals as a small child, and have my picture with Little Jimmy Dickens in Powell. I remember sitting with my Grandma Ruby Cowan at Goldie’s funeral. That was a sad day. My Daddy passed away this past September. Thank you for the trip down memory lane this morning! Also I totally agree that McDonald County is God’s country.

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  4. cheaperbythedozen

    Wow I would love to live in a place like this! It sounds like a great area to raise a family like ours (all 12 of us)…We reside in So. Cal and in my own personal opinion it’s too crowded, too liberal, and too expensive for a family like mine. Seeking His will ultimately. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  5. Kim

    What a lovely tribute to what must be a special place and man. I love the visual I get in my mind of his little scraps of this and thats where he wrote his inspiration. Thanks for sharing. Best, Kim

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      mcurren527

      Thanks, Kim! He was inspired to write so many songs, I guess he ran out of paper. LOL! He wrote over 800 songs and his son, Bob, said they’re still finding them.

  6. Pingback: "I'll Fly Away" in Greater Role ~ Mid-Life Blogger

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