|Josiah Cephas Weaver, songwriter, Florida businessman, and Virginia rancher, was born in the back hills of southern Virginia on October 9th, 1941. When the rest of the world watched as Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese and the Soviet Union was invaded by the Germans, Josiah Cephas picked Granny Smith apples for his mother’s cobblers, swept the dust from his father’s saw mill, sold tomatoes on the Roanoke Market Square, walked barefoot to Garden City Elementary School, and skinny-dipped with his brother Maynard in the cool waters of Back Creek. Family, church, school, and work…. these were the “rocks” of young Josiah’s world, but music……that was his life water. The music washed away the dirt of life, immersed him in the language of the hills, and fed his childhood dreams …and dream he did indeed.
From his earliest memories Josiah sang songs. For almost 60 years Josiah created songs to entertain just about anyone who would listen. Josiah sang songs to tell stories about life and somewhere along the line taught himself to play the guitar and piano. To this day he cannot read or write music….never really had a need to learn! On Sunday afternoons, his uncle Brandon would come over with his “ole GEEtar”, sit out on the back porch swing, eat fried chicken legs “like they was nothing”….. and the music would flow like the quick current of the nearby Roanoke River. After putting in a long summer day at the sawmill, Josiah and his cousin Price Bandy would drink Orange Crush outside the HideyHo country store and sing along with Hank Williams on the radio. On a Saturday night you might find Josiah and Bobby Hylton headed up to Starkey Speedway, cruising in a ’37 “Flying 8” Ford coupe. Although the Weaver family home did not have electricity or indoor plumbing during those early years, Josiah’s sometimes harsh childhood provided a solid foundation of rock that has fed his flow of music for “’bout near” 6 decades.
Josiah’s childhood ended quickly when at the age 15 he left home….alone. He saved his hard-earned money and took a Greyhound bus to Tampa, Florida. When he arrived with only a few quarters left in the pockets of his Wrangler jeans, he walked 20 miles to Clearwater. That first night he slept in a phone booth and never looked back. He found work as a tile-setter apprentice and by the age of 19 had started Weaver Tile Company. For the next 20 years, Weaver Tile flourished in central Florida and by the mid-70s Josiah was building warehouses and offices for lease in Clearwater. By 1978, he closed his tile business and set his sights on the development of Weaver Enterprises including Weaver Park, which today includes approximately 400,000 square feet of leased office and warehouse space in Clearwater.
When he is not overseeing Weaver Enterprises, Josiah can often be found at his beloved, 4000 acre W.W. Ranch near Wytheville, Virginia. On any given day he may be checking his Hereford and Angus herds, hunting wild turkey or deer, clearing land with his Cat 955 “dozer”, making up songs as Stevie Barr picks his banjo on the side porch, or telling jokes with his ranch foreman, J.W. Smith, and his nephew and ranch assistant, Rayven “Razor” Weaver. But every Independence Day you can be sure to find Josiah at GrahamFest…doing what he loves….doing what flows naturally…….singing and entertaining the people that mean the most to him in the hills of his Virginian home. The W.W. Ranch is also home to the historic and haunted Major Graham Mansion. Built in the mid-nineteenth century, this massive, 11,000 square foot antebellum mansion is both exquisitely preserved and eerily marked by the past. Recent paranormal investigators now confirm what was always whispered as local lore…..the mansion is indeed haunted.
From his youth to his earliest days in Florida to the present, Josiah’s river of music flowed. In fact, when life was the toughest…..when he worked for 36 straight hours laying tile and supervising over 100 employees…..when his much loved wife passed away from cancer in 1980……when the future was hard to see…..it was that steady, core faith in God, and his mountain music that carried his soul to the next day……to the next level….and carry him it did.
Looking back, Josiah’s first band was formed in the mid-50s. It was called “The Neptunes” and his songs were released on 45 records. On several occasions The Neptunes were the warm up band for touring shows including Florida performances by Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty. In the 1960s Josiah formed Wild Turkey Music, Inc. to record and produce his own songs. In the 1980s he had 12 songs in the top 100 on Cash Box Magazine’s country charts….many of them written and recorded in his “little white rock house recording studio” previously located on what is now Josiah Cephas Weaver Park in Dunedin, Florida. In 1980, Josiah and the Florida Symphony Orchestra performed one of his “rock house songs”, “America, God’s People Love You” in St. Petersburg for then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. In 1986, Josiah penned another “rock house song” in memory of an 18 year old Dunedin friend and soldier, who died in Vietnam. That song, “Salute the Boys of Vietnam”, was recognized in the Congressional Record on October 16thof that same year by Senator Sasser from Tennessee. In 1991, Josiah was selected as the Top Male Country Vocalist in the Independent Artist category by Cash Box Magazine. His song, “Girls That Look a Little Like You” remained number 1 on the charts for two consecutive weeks.
If Mountain Rock Music is Josiah’s first passion, Nascar runs a very close second. In 1988, Josiah was the proud owner of the Ford Thunderbird called the “Music Machine” which ran in three NASCAR Cup races. His racing theme song, “Feeling Good”, was ranked #83 on the Cash Box charts as his car was being clocked for the Daytona 500. As owner and sponsor of the NASCAR Nextel #58 Monte Carlo in 2007, Josiah sponsored childhood friend 72-year-old James Hylton at Daytona 500.
Over the years, Josiah has written thousands of songs and produced them on 45 records, albums, cassette tapes, and compact discs. Josiah has released five original cds since 1994. They are “Country Rock ‘N Roll” (1995), “Crossing Over” (1998), “Winning Colors” (2005), and “Comin’ Home” (2009). These songs are available on cds or as single song downloads at www.cdbaby.com/jcweaver. Whether Josiah is performing with Charlie Daniels and friends at his annual Charliepalooza event at the Tampa Hard Rock Casino (2006), in front of 25,000 screaming Market America supporters at the Greensboro Coliseum (2009), or just making up a song for an old friend who is sick, he is ever mindful of what is important and dear in life. (See www.YouTube.com/JCWeaver )
What is Josiah’s next project? For now, he says he will continue to support what he holds dear. That includes Dunedin’s newest park. In 2008 Josiah, the Florida Land Trust, Florida Forever, Pinellas County, and the city of Dunedin finalized the transfer of his waterfront home and 14 acres of inland and submerged land, to become Josiah Cephas Weaver Park. The much-celebrated ribbon cutting event for Josiah Cephas Weaver Park was March 26th, 2011. Today visitors enjoy walking on the 800 foot pier he built years ago out. Bikers on the Pinellas Trail stop to picnic there. Artists sculpt and paint landscapes at the Kiwanis supported Fine Art Center. Kayaks are launched into the gentle waters of the St. Joseph sound and strollers may see the schools of mullet or a wayward manatee or dolphin from the shore. But for those who wait…..those who cast their eyes towards the western skies…..comes the gift of one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Josiah continues to manage Weaver Industrial Park in Clearwater, which he designed and built over the past 30 years. But when he gets a hankerin’ for the fresh mountain air, those rolling hills, and his Herdferd and Angus herds……he heads to his W.W. Ranch. And along the way, he’ll make you up a song, drop in on a tour group, lead a group of deer or wild turkey hunters, and build spine-tingling sets for the HAUNTED GRAHAM MANSION Halloween attraction. According to Josiah, “To me life is beautiful and I am thankful for every day on God’s Earth.”