Dan & Norma Hendricks
Traditional music is a way of life for Dan and Norma Hendricks, connecting them to their roots, their community, and to generations of young people they have mentored over the years. As a young girl, Greenville, SC native Norma Hendricks sang with her father and learned to play piano by ear. In 1988, she heard Benny Hart flat-picking a guitar at Bluegrass Express in Hartwell, Georgia and she set out to play “just like Benny,” learning by listening to music and attending jams.
In 1989, closer to home, she founded a Pickens jam which moved a few years later to the Oolenoy Community Center in Pumpkintown, South Carolina, where it has been a Friday-night fixture ever since. Dan Hendricks grew up in Pickens. When he was 12, his father bought him a Silvertone guitar and music book, promising to buy him a “good” guitar if he learned to play. His next guitar was a National and Hendricks learned by listening to 78rpm records and to radio station WELP/WESC, imitating what he heard. In 1990, he attended Norma’s Pickens jam. They married in 1996 and together continued the Oolenoy Friday Jam.
The Hendricks are both accomplished musicians, playing guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and fiddle. They've played in the Oolenoy Valley Band and currently they perform with Heartstrings. Their traditional music advocacy shines bright in their mentoring and support of other musicians, especially young people. The Hendricks have been instrumental in the creation and success of such programs as Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM)—an after-school music program for 3rd-8th graders, YAM’s support organization Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM), the Sweet Potato Pie Kids—YAM’s performance group, and more recently the Am Jam—a weekly gathering for amateur musicians at Pickens’ Hagood Mill. At festivals, jams, and in their home, the Hendricks are ever on call to teach and back up young musicians. Many of their protégés have gone on to form their own bands, record CDs, win competitions, attend college as music majors or minors, and become instructors themselves.
Old-time and bluegrass music has been a mainstay in the greater Pickens community for over a hundred years, often played in churches, homes, front porches, and barns throughout the Upcountry. Dan and Norma Hendricks have brought bluegrass and traditional music to the forefront of their mountain music community through their enthusiastic participation and advocacy. They received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 2017.