There's charm and a real people-personality behind the wide, sly grin, but Slim Lehart still won't reveal where or why he got tagged with the moniker, The Wheeling Cat.
Slim Lehart has logged thousands of miles appearing throughout the eastern USA and Canada however, it was in those rugged West Virginia hills, his native stompin' grounds, where he cultivated his singing style. He played local clubs and it wasn't long before he caught the attention of upper management at WWVA Jamboree. With contract in hand, he enjoyed many years of success as a regular Jamboree headliner. There, from the Jamboree stage and over the 50,000 watt 1170 airwaves, he delighted fans with his appearances and singing style. They loved the familiar songs Slim Lehart sang, The Wheeling Cat, Sunshine In My Soul, Love Loses Power, and Sidewalks Of Chicago.
What his voice may have lacked in tonal quality and cultivated professional phrasing, his boyish charm, easygoing manner, tall stature and good looks took over, sweeping audiences in as true Slim Lehart fans... and they loved him!
Throughout the 70's, Slim Lehart had the distinct honor of having the most openings on the weekly Jamboree show and in 1975 was chosen as the 2nd most favorite Jamboree entertainer. When the Jamboree adopted their new, and current name, JAMBOREE USA, Slim Lehart was the first member signed under contract. From his first appearance in 1965 as a Jamboree entertainer Slim's appearances grew more frequent throughout the years and his overwhelming popularity culminated with his becoming the first Jamboree USA member to open JAMBOREE IN THE HILLS in 1978. He appeared for 3 consecutive years at the great outdoor country music event that has been hailed, The Super Bowl Of Country Music.
He's toured; he's recorded; he's hit the Nashville scene; from small, smoke-filled clubs to the expansive stages of parks and fairgrounds, Slim Lehart has, in the terminology of the music business, "paid his dues".
He's the first to tell you, "Heck, I just love people!", and to that end he reigned supreme for over 24-years at his widely-known and attended, famous (or infamous), Slim Lehart Annual Country Picnic. There, in the area of Big Wheeling Creek, up in the hills and hollers 'round Viola, WV, as many as 1,500 true-blue Slim Lehart fans gathered each September to bid summer "so long" in that good 'ol country style that always included a few tubs of ice-cold beer, a big spread of home cookin', and naturally some real down-home, front porch style pickin' and singin'. Held the Sunday before Labor Day, Slim's Annual Country Picnic was a true mountain-style outdoor gathering, rich in the tradition from which country music was born. Although Slim Lehart's picnics have now become cherished memories that still linger in the hills, they showed him just how much his fans really appreciated his brand of music and entertainment.
For Slim Lehart, it's been a long and often times rugged road across the country music landscape; and while his appearances may be fewer than those of some years back, he has undeniably earned his niche in the country music industry as well as the hearts of many fans.
Always civic-minded, in January 1995 Slim Lehart was elected to a 6-year term as Commissioner in Marshall County, WV, his native county and state. Acting in that capacity he was able to accomplish many of his objectives that helped benefit the people throughout Marshall County. To this day he continues to spend countless hours helping improve the lives of those around him. Like Slim said, "I just love people."
Slim Lehart stills calls himself The Wheeling Cat. And you know what... he STILL won't tell you where or how he got tagged with that nickname.