Gloria Faye Dingus was born on October 24th, 1936, in a small southwestern coal mining town deep in the Appalachian Mountains bordering Eastern Kentucky named Clintwood, Virginia. The daughter of a coal miner and one of five children, Gloria grew up in a home rich with love, value, and integrity, but little of anything else. They were one of many families trying to make it through the day, unsure of what tomorrow would bring.
Eager for a better life Gloria moved North and married her sweetheart in December, 1959 to start a new life together. In 1990, after raising her family and still restless to do something more, Gloria founded Drum & Strum Music Center in Warrenton, Virginia with her husband, Gary, and children, Cheryl and Tim. Soon after opening, Gloria quickly became aware of the needs within the community for a place to nurture artistic expression and a common ground where all the creators of music and art could meet. The things most important to Gloria were the people in her community and those close around her.
She never met a stranger, and loved everyone she ever knew. It was her life’s goal to help anyone she could, especially through music. Gloria believed that there should be no barrier between anyone and the arts because of their financial situation or predicament. Poverty was something Gloria knew all too well. She gave away countless hours of music lessons and multiple instruments to many people throughout her life never expecting or accepting any accolades. Knowing she had improved someone's quality of life through music was all that she needed.
Soon after beginning to host concerts within the store in the early 90’s because of a lack in places for musicians to gather, Gloria would talk of her dream to one day open an arts center that welcomed everyone. A place where people could gather, play music and perform, and a place where people could be inspired and encouraged to create, no matter what their medium, or where they came from. After Gloria’s untimely passing in September of 2012 her son Tim has continued to honor her legacy, that no one should ever be denied the joy of music, and in April, 2015, the Gloria Faye Dingus Music Alliance (“GFDMA”) was created. Before the establishment of the GFDMA, concerts were held in the listening room in the Drum & Strum Music Center, Tim Dingus invited musicians primarily in “Roots” music, Blues and Blue Grass, to perform there. The listening room seats about forty people. Acts have included The Nighthawks, The John Cowan Band, The Black Feathers, Rhys Jones & Luke Richardson, Daryl Davis & Linwood Taylor, Missy Raines & The New Hip, Will Lee, Danny Knicely & John Flower and Phil Hunt & Eddie Estes.
Since November of 2017 all presentations of concerts have been operated by the GFDMA with proceeds from each concert helping fund instruments and lessons for those less fortunate just like Gloria used to do personally. This combined the two things that made her so happy, helping keep music alive and helping those in need. Since opening the listening room on Main Street, the crowds of listeners, in addition to the list of talent wanting to perform has grown exponentially. Culture is not a recipe or something that can be created spontaneously, it must grow and develop within a community. The ideas and groundwork for a performance center of this caliber began more than 28 years ago, on a late Spring day in 1990. Other performers acts have expressed a desire to perform but the Drum & Strum listening room is too small for their following. Now the time is favorable for the next phase in the time line, The Gloria Faye Dingus Center for the Arts.