Larry Groce came to West Virginia in 1972 on a nine-month grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to be “Musician in the Schools” of Barbour, Tucker and Randolph Counties. He fell in love with the Mountain State and its people and has stretched those nine months into 50 years.
In 1983, he was one of the founders of NPR’s “Mountain Stage” and has been artistic director and co-producer since then. He was also host of the program, now heard on over 280 stations nationwide, before passing that role to Kathy Mattea in 2021. The acclaimed live-music show has presented a wide variety of artists including REM, The Band, Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Bill Monroe, Hazel Dickens, Allen Ginsberg, Alison Krauss, Phish, Pops Staples and Tyler Childers to over 3,000 guests in all.
Groce was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He went to high school there with singer-songwriters Michael Martin Murphy, Ray Wylie Hubbard and B.W. Stevenson. Groce began his recording career in New York City and Los Angeles but came into the national spotlight in 1976 when his single, “Junk Food Junkie”, was a top-10 hit and he was Grammy-nominated for Children’s Record of the Year. In all, he has made 24 albums including Gold and Platinum children’s recordings for Disney Records.
Over the years, Groce received the West Virginia Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts, was named “West Virginian of the Year” by the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has been inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Broadcasting Hall of Fame. A lover of all the arts, he once owned the Morgantown School of Ballet, co-owned the WV alternative magazine, Graffiti, and helped to create and was the first executive director of FestivALL Charleston.
Recently, Groce was featured in The New York Times best-selling book, “Our Towns,” and was part of the HBO documentary made from it. He also wrote songs for two musicals, “Paradise Park – The Musical” and “Miss Dirt Turtle’s Garden Club” (books by Daniel Boyd). Groce is presently working with West Virginia singer/songwriter Todd Burge on a third musical inspired by David McCullough’s book, “The Pioneers”.