was born on August 31, 1961, and was raised in South Charleston, West Virginia. Jim graduated from South Charleston High School, Marshall University, and West Virginia University College of Law. Jim and wife Valerie have two children: Jimmy, Jr. age 22, and Amy, age 19.
Jim grew up in a musical family. Jim’s father played harmonica and guitar, and his father played many instruments, including the banjo. At the age of 13, Jim received his first banjo for Christmas and at 15 joined his first group and began performing in public.
Jim developed a reputation for his banjo playing by competing in contests throughout West Virginia and surrounding states, winning or placing at the top in over thirty contests, including consecutive wins at the West Virginia State Open Banjo Championship in Elkins, West Virginia (the official State Championship) and winning first or second place twelve times at contests sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Culture & History (in Charleston and Clifftop, West Virginia). Jim also began teaching at the age of 16, ultimately teaching hundreds of students at Gorby’s Music, Herbert Music, Fret ‘n Fiddle, and the University of Charleston. Jim performed as a member of Bluegrass Heritage, Free Spirit, the Russell Brothers Boogie Grass Band, and Robin Tackett & Taste of Grass. Jim performed as a Lonesome Rambler with Larry Sparks on a two-week stint through Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and was offered a permanent job, but at that time (1981) Jim had recently committed his life to Christ, had become engaged, and was still in college. In addition to the groups listed above, Jim has performed on stage with Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, the Whites, Jimmy Martin, Mac Wiseman, the Bluegrass Cardinals, the Lost & Found, John Hartford, Josh Graves and Kenny Baker, and the Charleston Symphony.
Jim has recently recorded his first all-instrumental project, but has been in demand as a studio musician, appearing on a number of recordings, including projects by fiddler James Price, and Ernie Thacker. Jim is the newly elected Prosecuting Attorney in Lincoln County, West Virginia, but he has a flexible schedule and finds time not only for his music, but is active in his church and community.
was born on February 22, 1961, and was raised in Hurricane, West Virginia. She graduated from Hurricane High School and Marshall University with a degree in education. She is married to Jim Gabehart and they have two children: Jimmy, Jr. age 22, and Amy, age 19.
They live in Hamlin, West Virginia, where Valerie works for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources as a Family Support Specialist. Valerie has coached T-ball, buddy basketball, and assisted with the high school basketball, volleyball, softball and track teams.
Valerie grew up watching local bluegrass musicians perform at a restaurant owned by Valerie’s parents. At the age of eight, Valerie learned to play the guitar and made her debut at the Mountaineer Opry House in Milton, West Virginia, singing the Osborne Brothers’ hit “Ruby”. Although she enjoyed playing the guitar and singing, after her parents sold the restaurant she spent most of her teenage years performing with her high school marching band, playing drums and leading the band as drum majorette. Valerie was also quite an athlete, competing in girls basketball and track, winning several track meets throwing the discus.
When Jim and Valerie met and discovered their mutual interest in bluegrass music, a lifetime partnership was formed. Jim and Valerie married in 1981, while both were sophomores at Marshall University, and they formed STEADFAST in 1982. Being relatively inexperienced at the time, Valerie began in a supportive role and was not the group’s primary lead vocalist. However, it quickly became apparent that the quality of her voice and the unusual (at that time) circumstance of a female vocalist in bluegrass made the group stand out from other groups in the area. Together with her solid rhythm guitar playing, Valerie’s voice quickly became the most recognizable part of STEADFAST’s sound. During the recording of the group’s first album in Nashville, a professional musician who was observing the recording referred to Valerie as “one-take Valerie”, a compliment to her flawless delivery. In its review of the album, Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine called Valerie a “gutty, dynamic singer” with “major-league talent”. In addition to her own projects, Valerie has been invited to contribute harmony vocals to enhance other recordings. While she could have gained fame and fortune through her voice, Valerie’s values and priorities have earned her greater rewards as a wife, mother, and servant to all.
was born on April 30, 1979, in Melbourne, Florida. He lived most of his childhood in his father’s home state of North Carolina, before moving to Charleston, West Virginia, his mother’s home state. Brandon graduated from Capital High School in Charleston, and West Virginia State University.
Brandon grew up in a musical family and began playing music at a young age. Brandon’s father, Garland Shuping, played professionally for many years, including a five-year stint as banjo player for Grand Old Opry members Jim & Jesse McReynolds, before starting his own group, Wild Country. Brandon’s mother, Elaine, was a featured vocalist and bass player with Wild Country. Before moving to West Virginia, Brandon performed in his early teenage years as a bass player for Wild Country with his parents. However, Brandon didn’t limit himself to the bass, learning to play mandolin, guitar, and banjo, as well.
After moving to West Virginia, Brandon spent most of his later teenage years playing music other than bluegrass, and was a member of a couple of rock & roll groups, Blackwater Hollow, and Cain. In a chance meeting, Jim happened to be picking up some strings at a local music store when he overheard Brandon trying out one of the store’s mandolins. It just so happened STEADFAST was looking for a mandolin player and Brandon joined the group in 1998. However, at that time STEADFAST was slowing down, due to Jim & Valerie’s parental responsibilities and increasing focus on gospel music, and after building his bluegrass muscles over the next couple years, Brandon departed for a job as bass player with James King. Brandon returned to the mandolin for jobs with Ernie Thacker & Route 23, the Bluegrass Strangers, the Rarely Herd, among others. Brandon is well known to the bluegrass community as a top-notch mandolin player and Jim & Valerie Gabehart are happy to have him back.
JOHN “BUCKWHEAT” GREEN
was born in Danville, West Virginia and raised in Hurricane, West Virginia. Because of his love of the Little Rascals, John was given the nickname “Buckwheat”, the name by which he is still best known to his friends and fans. Buckwheat is an accomplished musician, and has played guitar, mandolin, and bass in many bands, but has gained his greatest acclaim for his vocal ability and songwriting.
After playing and recording with several groups in the Charleston, West Virginia area, including the West Virginia Gentlemen, Don Sowards and the Laurel Mountain Boys, the High Time Picken Band, and Groundspeed, Buckwheat moved to Virginia to become a member of the Lonesome River Rand, with Dan Tymnski, Tim Austin, and Dale Perry. Buckwheat wrote several songs which have been recorded by the Lonesome River Band including “The Old Man In The Shanty”, which has also been released more recently by the Chapmans, “It Won’t Be Like Cheating”, and “If I Could Only Have Your Love”, all of which were released on Rebel Records. Buckwheat also contributed his vocals to the all-star tribute recording “Stanley Tradition”, which was nominated for IBMA and Grammy awards.
After nearly twenty years living in Virginia and North Carolina, Buckwheat moved home to Hurricane, West Virginia, to be near his mother, Virginia Green, now aged 89. After learning that Buckwheat had moved back in the area, when Jim and Valerie Gabehart were looking for a bass player and vocalist, Buckwheat was at the top of their list of candidates, and they are ecstatic to have him in the group. Buckwheat is married to Sandy Littlejohn Green, who herself has been involved in the music business, formerly working with Dave Freeman and Rebel Records. As a vocalist, bass player, song writer, and collaborator on the business side, Buckwheat is looking forward to helping Jim and Valerie elevate the group to the next level in the music business. Buckwheat is a proud owner and endorser of Schecter Guitars.
is the daughter of Jim & Valerie Gabehart. Born on July 16, 1989, Amy came out of the womb singing her heart out. She made her debut at the age of six at the Vandalia Gathering sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Culture and History in front of a crowd of several hundred people.
She was invited to sing a solo (The Rose) with dulcimer accompaniment after her vocal ability was recognized by an artist-in-residence (Bob Webb) who was teaching dulcimer to elementary teachers and students in Lincoln County, West Virginia.
Over the years since, Amy has been a whirlwind of artistic and athletic endeavors. She earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do at the age of ten, and competed in softball, basketball, and volleyball, and was a member of three state tournament basketball and softball for Hamlin High School. She graduated with high honors with the first graduating class of the consolidated Lincoln County High School. Amy loves the theatre, and has acted in numerous high school productions as well as productions of the Charleston Stage Company and West Virginia State University at its summer arts camps. Amy is also a pageant competitor, and earned the title of Miss Lincoln County in 2006. However, through all her many varied activities, she has maintained her love for music. Over the past dozen years, Amy has consistently taken advantage of opportunities to develop her voice and stage presence, singing with parents Jim & Valerie before audiences of thousands at the Summersville Bluegrass Festival, and other events throughout West Virginia.
Amy is a recent graduate of West Virginia University and a newlywed, and she and husband Chad live in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is Head Athletic Trainer for Trousdale County High School. She doesn’t get to perform as often with Jim & Valerie as she’d like, but whenever the group performs in the Nashville area or her schedule permits, she is a welcome addition to the group’s shows.