Possessing a truly "extraordinary mountain alto" she has charmed listeners since she was a child. A natural musician Gaye began her vocal training under the tutelage of her mother , Margie, who acted as the children's choir director at their home church , Mill Creek Church of the Brethren.
As a young girl she taught herself to play guitar and launched a performing career by playing at local 4-H talent shows, church socials and a variety of informal gatherings.
During the "Folk Boom" of the early sixties Gaye, came under the influence of her older sister, Sandra, whose distinctive soprano voice graced many a "hootenanny" as a member of a popular local folk music ensemble. Having gleaned what musical traditions she could during this time she soon abandoned it all for the life of a carefree teenage girl in the small Southern town of Tryon, North Carolina
It was at Tryon High School where Gaye began to blossom as a performer. Her early training as a cheerleader has proven invaluable to her career. However, it was her coronation as "Homecoming Queen" in 1968 that convinced her mother to pull up roots and head to the west coast . As Margie has stated over the years, "The late sixties were a period when everyone was trying to 'find themselves' so we went to California to see if we left ourselves out there." It was in Los Angeles where Gaye met her future husband and pickin' partner, Phil Johnson. Phil & Gaye came together by accident backstage at play at Santa Monica College where they were both enrolled in the Theater Arts program during the Fall of 1969. Gaye was the costuming mistress and Phil kept popping buttons. The rest is history.