Derric Friday, accomplished guitarist and band member of the acclaimed Fifth and York, was born in Gastonia, NC (a little town about 30 minutes outside of Charlotte). His father was instrumental in sowing a seed in the music profession for Derric's life. He describes this in detail.
"I was always a singer because of my dad. He sang in church, but his job never allowed time to learn lyrics. Dad gave me the task during the week. On Saturday I had to teach him the songs. We did have a family band. On one rehearsal day, the cousin drummer had football practice and couldn't make rehearsal. My dad said, "Boy go play drums." My response was, "Umm daddy I don't play drums." His comeback was, "You play drums today!" .....so I was a drummer from that day. I was in marching band drum corps and all of that still singing in the classical setting with choirs. I sang Bess You Is My Woman Now (from the Opera Porgy and Bess) for the first time at 15 ."
Although Derric enjoyed singing and playing drums, he started to develop a longing for the guitar. "During that time I discovered Prince and Jesse Johnson, and there was something about the guitar sound that they had that drew me in. I just wanted to know how to make that sound. My older cousin said that they were just copying Jimi Hendrix, and after that I was sold on the guitar. I couldn't afford or get to lessons, but I had a friend in high school that was taking lessons from a very well respected guitar teacher by the name of Jim Burch. My friend Jimmy Galloway, a giant on the instrument himself, would have his lesson on Thursday and would show me what he learned on Friday morning in home room (if you don't know Jimmy Galloway or Jim Burch look 'em up). After high school I went to UNCG as a vocal major, and I was good ... very good...but the classes and such took the fun out of music. I couldn't have that, so I concentrated on guitar and bass doing gigs for major artists and such."
As time progressed, Derric got married and had 2 children while still performing. His cousin was in a similar situation, which started the idea of 5th and York. "My younger cousin (saxophonist) was in the same position, and we were hanging out complaining about the musical situation we were in. We said, hey let's do something new. We were at a house on the corner of 5th Street and York Street in Gastonia, and that's where a new family was formed. We just celebrated 10 years of being a unit, but I got blessed. These guys are more than my band mates...they are my family...for real."
Derric has advice for the new generation of musicians. "Study as hard and as much as possible (theory, technically, etc.), but first and foremost love it and make music fun, no matter what style or genre whatever... That's why I'm up at 4 am playing along to Jesse Johnson records....remember where the initial passion came from...."
Derric practices what he preaches. Thank you, Derric Friday, for bestowing your many gifts in music to us!
Diversita Opera Arts Company