Imagine yourself, standing in Times Square in 1927. You’ve never seen a city, muchless the size of New York. You’ve spent your entire life in the mountains of the Blue Ridge farming and taking care of your family. That’s where Bela Lam found himself after his popularity took off. If you missed my earlier article on the singing Lam family I suggest reading it to get a bit of background on the Lam family and their musical roots.
From left: Bela, John Paul Meadows (Rose’s brother), Rose, Alva (Bela & Rose’s son)
In December 1874 Zandervon Obeliah Lam was born to Matthew & Annie Lamb. From the time he could open his mouth he was surrounded with music. Matthew sang and played the fiddle, his siblings also began to pickup instruments and stretch their vocal cords. The family routinely participated in musical get-togethers in what is now called “Big Meadows” in the Shenandoah National Park. It surely came as no surprise to friends & family that Zandervon (more commonly known as Bela) would become one of the most well-known performers in that portion of the state.
On December 18, 1900 Bela married Rozeliah Quintis Meadows (born March 7 1874) more commonly known as Rose. Almost a year to the date, on December 19, 1901 their son Alva was born. Alva was surely immersed in music from the very beginning. During the time Bela was living in Page County he would spend his days working in a local gristmill. The family moved sometime prior to 1910 to Greene County. Some years later (circa 1925) the family would be joined by Rose’s brother, John Paul Meadows (born December 9, 1881) and they would be known as Bela Lam & The Greene County Singers.