By Johnnie Grant –
Darryl Cannady is the owner of Legends “Multicultural” Unisex Beauty and Barbershop of WNC, located at 24 New Leicester Highway, in Asheville, NC.
A leader in his field and holding the title of “Master-Barber,” Darryl says life hasn’t always been a crystal stair.
As a child, Darryl’s family moved to the newly unoccupied Erskine Street Apartments, managed by the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville.
“In the beginning life was great,” said Darryl. “I was able to participate in recreational activities at the Reid Center (now the Authur R. Edington Center), and had many positive social networks. However, like some young people who follow the wrong crowd, I started getting into trouble, but I did graduate from Asheville High School,” said Darryl.
As Darryl reminisced about some times in his life, he takes responsibility for the mistakes he has made.
“In looking back at those not-so-positive-times, I attribute some of it to being young, poor, and growing up without a father-figure in my life. Having a male in the household would have provided me an opportunity to share those difficult times of adolescence by giving me direction to rationalize my thoughts.”
He also brings up a horrific event in his childhood, “when someone discharged a weapon outside my mother’s apartment.”
After a pause he continues, “The bullet came through the window of my mother’s apartment, and blew the brains out of a nine-year-old little girl sitting inside. That sent me over the edge, and on a downward spiral,” says Darryl. “I never received any psychological counseling and/or treatment.”
Withstanding the tragic events in his life, Darryl decided to attend Capital City Barber’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, graduating in 1985. He came back to Asheville to hone his skills under the tutelage of Mrs. Georgia Muckelvene, whom many remember as “Ms. G.”
“Working with Ms. G, Mayo “Pic” Pickett, and Mr. Willie Shiver, allowed me to discover that barbering was more than a trade—it’s an art!” said Darryl. And, after three years of working with Ms. G and other master barbers, I purchased a barbershop known as Mr. Fields Barbershop located at 24 Eagle Street. This made me the youngest (age 21) black entrepreneur on “the Block!” said Darryl.
Regardless of those achievements, Darryl decided to move to Ohio and then to Georgia, where he received his license as a Master-Barber. He also started a rap group named Tech-9 Posse, who performed and opened shows for rap artists such as Ice Cube, A-Town Players, Luke Skywalker, and even Nelly. “It was fun and adventurous,” said Darryl, “but all rapping got me was a severe drug addiction!”
Wanting a change for the better, Darryl set up shop with Ms. G. to begin barbering again. Seven years later he purchased her barbershop and decided to relocate. “Relocation for me was a blessing in disguise. I realized there was a need for a beauty and barbershop in the New Leicester Highway area,” stated Darryl.
Currently he is sprinting into the future, and working on a “Legends” clothing brand and hair magazine. Whenever possible, Darryl uses his barbers’ chair (and shop) to speak positive words of wisdom to people experiencing daunting situations. “People can talk all day,” says Darryl, “but look at the lives they are leading! I tell these talkers ‘be the change you want to see. You only get out of life what you are willing to put in to it!’”
“The joy of my life is being the best father and grandfather I can be, making a living for my family, and grooming my seven year old son to be a professional (major league) baseball player,” mused Darryl.
Darryl attributes his positive outlook to the professional barbers, his family and friends, and Pastor Ronald Gates. “These people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and I’m very grateful to have (had) them in my life,” concluded Darryl.