Oliver Fenceroy was born in the small town of Wilmot, Arkansas. He was the fourth son
of eight brothers and four sisters. The Fenceroy siblings grew up on a 200-acre working farm
where they grew cotton, corn, beans, and raised a few head of livestock.
As with any farm boy, Oliver had chores that were a part of his everyday routine, picking cotton,
baling hay, gathering eggs, and fence mending, among other things.
Oliver loved to sing and grew up singing Gospel songs in a Southern Church. But when he was offered
free piano lessons so that he could play for the church congregation, he respectfully declined.
Probably because he had also taken a liking to rhythm and blues music, which was forbidden
in his household.
In retrospect, he chuckles in a conversation with Mike Johnson, he wished he had at least learned
to pick the guitar instead of picking cotton.
Oliver served a tour of military service in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division.
Some of the emotion and grit in the songs that he's written most likely sprang from
that experience. Being an Arkansas farm boy, it goes without saying that country music
is also ground as deep within him as the soil he was raised on.
He has been writing songs for about 15 years and though his family are not country music fans, per se,
they do enjoy listening to him sing. His natural, unpretentious voice seeps deep down inside you
while his down-to-earth lyrics take you on journeys down memory lane.
Oliver says he tries to write clean songs that everyone can relate to and enjoy. A very refreshing
approach today, given how some of our old-fashion ethics and morals are steadfastly
being trampled into the ground.
Oliver has been a resident of Sioux City, Iowa for quite some time. Sometime in late 2008
he chanced upon Mike Johnson's Youtube video site and the two struck up a conversation
and eventual friendship. Mike viewed Oliver's videos and responded favorably.
Oliver then sent him a copy of his debut CD “Dreamer.”
Mike enjoyed it so much that he prompted him to send a copy to the National Traditional Country Music Association's
Tradition Magazine for a music review. He also told Oliver about the annual week
long festivals and suggested that he should consider attending a future one.
Bob Everhart was just as impressed with Oliver's CD and wrote the following review
in the 2009 Spring Edition of Tradition Magazine.
“OLIVER L. FENCEROY * Dreamer: 1.The Dreamer 2.She Ain't Out There 3.When I Said I Do, I Did
“Reviewing CD's never ceases to amaze me. Oliver Fenceroy is a good friend of my good friend
Mike Johnson. Both guys are black. Does that make a difference? Yes it does. For me
at least, it's an opportunity to hear some 'country' music with 'different' roots. Oliver's song
“The Dreamer” is a killer. What I like about it is the great 'country' backing in it,
but also I like it because it has some little bits of Jamaica in it, and little bits
of 'modern' in it, and little bits of rhythm and blues sprinkled just right.
My how I wish country music could have taken this direction rather than the
failing 50's rock direction it took.
“Oliver wishes he could have picked a little more guitar than cotton when he was a
kid, but I think he's on the just right road in life he's supposed to be on. Guess where
Oliver lives? Sioux City, Iowa.
Don't know where the studio Fresh Water is located, or the producer James Kegler, or who they
used in this production, which is Oliver's first, but the musicianship is just
fine, and the mix turned out just fine.
“Oliver, you don't need to be 'pushed' into making a cd just because your co-workers say you can't.
Do it because you're on the road our good Lord Jesus has placed you on. Make cd's because
they're good. Make cd's because you're good at it. Make cd's to show off your
fine songwriting abilities. Make cd's because YOU want to.
“I'm not going to tell you that you'll get rich and famous from making cd's,
because even the 'big' boys can't do that these days, but you sure
will get a lot of enjoyment using your talent in making people feel good about music,
about themselves, about you."
Bob urged Mike to try and get Oliver to the festival, and after some coaxing and persistence,
Johnson succeeded in getting Oliver to commit. When they met they hit it off immediately
and began rehearsing for Oliver's two performances. So impressed by Oliver's rehearsing
were Sue and Dawn, two of the Kramer Sisters Group, and a guitarist name Kirk, that
they joined in.
Noticing that they greatly contributed to calming Oliver's [quote] “chickens flappin in
his stomach”, Mike invited them to help back him up on the Main Stage.
Though he admits he was quite nervous, Oliver's performances of “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley”
and “Kiss An Angel Good Morning” were enthusiastically received as was noted by
It was also on that stage Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association,
presented Oliver with the Rising Legend Award.
Oliver also performed on the One On The Mountain Stage, this time including two of his own songs,
“When I Said I Do, I Did” and “Getting Tired.” Mike Johnson admits that he
was a bit nervous because it sometimes takes him awhile to learn a new song,
but he fell back on some of the same advice that he had given Oliver and got through it just fine.
Oliver spoke of his first festival experience, “I am forever grateful to my friend Mike Johnson,
the famous No.1 Black Yodeler who helped me out and led me by the hand. I appreciate all that
he has done, and advice he still gives me from time to time via email...”
Mike thoroughly enjoyed meeting Oliver and getting the opportunity to assist a truly unique
individual and wonderfully nice guy take his wonderful talent a step further.
Oliver wishes that he could spend a lot more time writing and recording songs, but as he says,
he has a wife and family to support.
His day job keeps him busy and he divides his off time between his family and music. Hopefully
the future will allow him some additional time to do just that. I know the folks
at the LeMars Festival will be looking forward to seeing him again.
P.O. Box 947
North Sioux City, IA 57049
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its appreciation to Mike Johnson
for letting us know about Oliver Fenceroy and allowing us to use the biographical information
he had put together.
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