by Herb Davis
Another Newfoundland Country and Bluegrass legend, Sam Learning was born in St. John’s in 1926. While still a teenager in the mid forties, Sam embarked on a musical career with Alex Bishop and Alex Williams known as the “TUMBLING TUMBLE WEEDS”. Along with numerous other engagements the group had their own radio show on VOCM.
After a stint in the Merchant Marine, Sam worked as a stationary engineer with the government of Ontario and formed his own band in 1950. In 1952 he joined Canada’s then, number one country group, “THE HILLBILLY JEWELS” performing with the Wilf Carter show, Smiley Burnett Show of Hollywood and many others. The “Hillybilly Jewels” were featured on a Canadian National weekly program and daily on local radio stations.
Sam and his wife, Vivian (a very popular singer with the Hillbilly Jewels) turned to Gospel in 1954. He earned his Bachelor of Theology degree and became a pastor. Sam is a well known Evangelist in the U.S and Canada. The Learning family, Sam, Vivian and daughters, Sandra & Sharon, have appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; Ralph Emery Morning T.V. Show, Nashville Grand Pa Jones Show; Stoney Cooper & Wilma Lee Show; WWVA Wheeling West Virginia and numerous other famous programs. Sam’s multi talent extends far beyond his masterly playing on violin, banjo, guitar, mandolin etc.; he also writes his own compositions and is a great humorist. A Country music pioneer gentleman Newfoundland can be truly proud of.
Sam is still entertaining today with the Bluegrass Gospelaires in addition to preforming Gospel solo in various Christian settings.
(Incidentally, Sam is the brother of the late Joan Morrisey who was a great singer and actress)