April 22, 1948|
|Genres||Country, Folk, Children's music|
|Labels||Warner Bros. Records, Walt Disney Records|
Larry Groce (born April 22, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and radio host. Since 1983, Groce has served as the host and artistic director of Mountain Stage, a two-hour live music radio program produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed by NPR. He first entered the national spotlight in 1976 when his novelty song "Junk Food Junkie" became a Top Ten hit. After that, Groce's voice became well known by children and parents alike as a result of his Platinum recordings of classic children's songs for Walt Disney Records Children’s Favorites 4-volume series: Volume 1 (1979), Volume 2 (1979), Volume 3 (1986), and Volume 4 (1990).
Groce was born in Dallas, Texas, to H.T. and Bobbie Groce. He had a younger brother, Gary (born July 7, 1951), and a younger sister, Janna (born April 8, 1961). Groce became interested in music while in elementary school. He attended Adamson High School in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, with fellow aspiring singer-songwriters Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wylie Hubbard and B. W. Stevenson. Other music notables from the Oak Cliff area include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan and Edie Brickell.
Groce’s first album, a collection of hymns called Peace and Joy and Power, was recorded in 1969 while he was still a college student at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. After graduating in 1970, he moved to New York and became a regular performer at a “Focus”, an Upper West Side organic food restaurant and coffeehouse co-owned by future Hollywood producer and manager Larry Brezner. (Brezner’s wife at that time, Melissa Manchester, was also a regular.) Later that year, Groce signed a recording contract with Daybreak Records, a subsidiary of RCA Records. His first album of original songs, The Wheat Lies Low, was released in 1970. From 1972 to 1985 he was a National Endowment for the Arts sponsored "musician-in- residence", visiting schools in twenty different states. One of those residencies brought him to West Virginia in 1972, where he continues to make his home.
In 1976, his satiric novelty song "Junk Food Junkie" became a top-ten hit and led to appearances on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, The Rich Little Show, Nashville Now, The Disney Channel, Dr. Demento, and A Prairie Home Companion.
Between 1979 and 1990, Groce appeared on nine Disney albums, six of which were certified Gold and two Platinum. His first Disney recording, Winnie-the-Pooh for President, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Recording for Children” in 1976, and Disney’s Children’s Favorites Volumes I-IV remain in print and continue to sell.
In 1983, Groce co-founded Mountain Stage, a two-hour live music program produced by West Virginia Public Radio and distributed nationally and internationally by NPR and Voice of America's satellite radio service. He has served as host and artistic director for every broadcast to date, and his musical tastes have been instrumental in defining the sound of the show.
Mountain Stage was the first nationally broadcast radio or television program to feature live performances by Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Phish, Counting Crows, Ben Harper, Ryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Ben Harper, Lucinda Williams, David Gray, and The Avett Brothers. The show has also featured legendary musical pioneers such as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Pops Staples and Brownie McGhee as well as modern superstars R.E.M., Martina McBride and Norah Jones.
In 2016 Groce released his first recording in 27 years called "Live Forever." It includes four originals and eight covers, and includes the full version of the Mountain Stage theme song "Simple Song."
In 1990, he starred in a low budget feature film made in West Virginia, Paradise Park (later re-released as Heroes of the Heart), about life in a Mountain State trailer park. Groce also co-wrote the title song with Webb Wilder, who also appeared in the film with country stars Porter Wagoner and Johnny Paycheck.
Groce was part owner of West Virginia's only statewide arts and entertainment alternative tabloid, Graffiti, from 1990 until 2004.
In 2005, he became Executive Director of FestivALL Charleston, a ten-day festival of music, dance, theater and visual arts in West Virginia’s capital city.
Larry Groce currently lives in Charleston, West Virginia. He is married to Sandra Groce (née Armstrong) and has two daughters named Bonnie and Virginia.