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Possum Holler's lead vocalist enjoys performing with family

June 24, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HANCOCK -- For 10 years or so, Tori Anderson has been the lead vocalist for Possum Holler, a local band with a full spring and summer schedule performing at carnivals and fairs.

Anderson, who also plays some acoustic guitar and mandolin, said she's been singing for as long as she can remember, often singing as a child with her parents as they traveled to churches and revivals. Her mother said Tori wrote her first song at age 4, a song about cookies.

The oldest of five girls, Anderson said she loves performing with her "brothers and sisters" in the six-member band, which includes one of her sisters and Tori's husband of 22 years, Michael. The couple has one son and two daughters.

The family connection also includes her sister's husband, who is her manager.

Another joy for Anderson is the audience.

"The people that come out to see us are an amazing bunch of people," Anderson said.

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Anderson said she doesn't even mind the occasional swallowed bug during an outdoor performance and laughs as she remembers being locked in a portable toilet in Mercersburg, Pa., during an August carnival.

The Hancock native said the band, which has produced two CDs, performs a mix of its own songs, as well as new and old classics - "something for everyone." She said some have described the band's sound as more bluesy than country.

Possum Holler's most recent CD, "Substantially Blue," was chosen as one of the Top 25 Indie CDs in 2006.

Anderson also is known through her job as music director/radio personality for WAYZ 104.7 and WPPT 92.1 in Greencastle, Pa. It was at the urging of her radio co-workers that she flew to Nashville, Tenn., on Good Friday for a 48-hour whirlwind audition for Nashville Stars.

She made the top 200, but didn't make the cut to the top 50, which she thinks was a result of her age.

Faith is an important part of Anderson's life and she said she's in church every Sunday, even after late Saturday performances. She said she loves her "little country church," Mt. Olivet Presbyterian, and how supportive the members of the congregation are of each other.

Anderson has needed her share of support lately, after being diagnosed with scleroderma on Valentine's Day. The chronic connective tissue disease results in hardening of the skin, among other symptoms.

She was diagnosed several years ago with rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud's disease, and has since learned that most scleroderma patients have Raynaud's, which makes them highly sensitive to the cold.

Blessed with a high metabolism and slight frame, Anderson manages her health with medications and a healthy diet that excludes gluten because of its negative effect on scleroderma patients. She also indulges in Dairy Queen treats every chance she gets.

For now, Anderson said she gets through this "trying time" one day at a time, praying for a cure. She said she's not angry about her health situation, that she'd rather be the one dealing with it than her children.

"I am joyful and hopeful. When life knocks you on your knees, pray there," Anderson said.

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