Introducing our musician for the Chrysalis Awards, William Massey
“First and foremost I was born and raised in Savannah, GA. Growing up there exposed me to a wide array of music genres and provided an opportunity to go see live music regularly. I grew up taking piano lessons from kindergarten through my high school graduation and didn't start playing the guitar until college. When the music REALLY took off was when I moved to the island of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. In my early 20's that was the first time, I got a chance to play with other people and small groups; duos, trios, full-band, etc. Ever since my return to the states in 2013 I've been slowly but surely pursuing music as more than just a small hobby. I have been a high school English teacher for the last 12 1/2 years; first on Yap, then in LaPorte Indiana, and most recently, in Mouth of Wilson, VA. Moving to Appalachia has opened my eyes to a whole new world of folk, old-time, and bluegrass music that meshes well with my blues/southern rock roots from Savannah. To be completely honest, I have no idea what I'll be doing over the next month or two aside from playing music. My goal is to have a small record produced by the fall so I can push it out to the normal music media outlets.
So...am I a professional musician? I'll answer that by saying...over the last 4 years it has gotten to the point where I depend on the money I make from my performances/parties/etc for me and my wife's well-being. Now that I will no longer be teaching, the music will be even more important and will warrant more of an emotional and financial investment from me.
Aside from music I'm a huge sports nut...Braves, Falcons, and the Georgia Bulldogs are my go-to teams. I played soccer in college at Queens University of Charlotte but baseball has always been my love...and the source of heartbreak over the years. My wife and I live right off of the New River in a small township called Crumpler, NC up in the mountains. We love going trout and bass fishing and just plopping our chairs in the river to enjoy the myriad wildlife we have all around us. Another favorite hobby? Simply getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway and driving until we see a place we want to stop, get out, and just sit; sometimes I'll bring a guitar just for fun but we live in such a beautiful area, usually, the views and silence are more than enough for us.
2. I wouldn't call it an inspiration...it's more like common sense. I'll be completely honest and say that I am not at the forefront of any sustainability movements or anything like that...BUT...I simply approach each day with a mindset of, hey, take care of your business, take care of the areas around you, do the small things...they always help. Living a few hundred feet from one of the oldest rivers in the world, and also one of the most pristine stretches of it, I witness every time I leave home the importance of taking care of what WE all have.
3. I don't think excitement is the right word...although I am psyched...I wish I could've been there in-person to perform my song live. HOWEVER...I'll have to go with humbled and grateful to answer this 3rd question. When my friend Becca told me y'all were looking for a GA musician to play a song I jumped at the opportunity...not to be heard...but to do something cool. I think it means even more to me because I haven't been a Georgia resident for over 15 years. That being said...at every single solitary performance, my personal goal is to represent Savannah, and the state of Georgia and hold myself to a standard that has been set by many many more before me, and on much higher levels. I pride myself on being from Savannah and I owe it to all of the musicians who inspired me growing up (local guys) to go out every time and play the right way. Up in the mountains they're used to folk and bluegrass but when I get a chance to throw some River Street-Esque blues at them or go off on a 15-minute Grateful Dead song with a wah-wah pedal...THOSE are the moments that catch people off guard, and they're the moments that hit closest to home. I'll be sending a video about the background of the song, but long story short it was the first song I ever wrote...and it was after I had spent 3 days in a hospital on Yap with dengue fever. I got back to my apartment, sat down, and wrote it all, music and lyrics in about 30 minutes. It was only too fitting and almost too easy to decide which song I wanted to record.
4. Oh man, the pandemic...my wife and I both had Covid in October 2020 and it knocked us out pretty hard. Our quarantine was probably the most difficult several weeks that either of us had experienced...being stir crazy, being depressed, being SICK, the uncertainty of lingering symptoms, etc. I'll tell you what though...music music music....that was a big part of what got us through. I bought A LOT of vinyl last fall and each time we would get a new package it was like Christmas. I feel like music, no matter what genre, is a panacea...just depends on each person's taste. What else...we drove and drove and drove...we utilized our surroundings and found places we could go and be away from anyone and thus ensure safety. We got in touch with old friends simply because we had the TIME to do so. It's a fine line between having all that time is a good or a bad thing...so we told ourselves we needed to be aware of how we were each feeling emotionally and mentally, respect that, and proceed accordingly.
5. I currently have a total of ONE song digitally recorded...and it was only recorded because I was fortunate enough to be asked to do this. As I mentioned earlier, plans are in the works for a small album to be put out on Spotify/Apple Music/etc. within the next few months. As for my performances, I'll do a little selfless promotion and say that I am more than willing to drive for private parties/events to be there in person. All of my currently scheduled gigs are up in the High Country; Boone, Blowing Rock, West, Jefferson, Sparta, Elkin, Mooresville, Galax VA, etc. I do get down to Savannah 2 or 3 times a year and I always make sure to schedule a performance so friends and family can come watch. One of the little ironies about my teeny amount of regional or local success is that the people I grew up with and my family members rarely get to see me perform. So when I go home...it's go time.”