The Apprenticeship Program was established by the Virginia Folklife Program in 2002 under the leadership of Jon Lohman, who served as state folklorist 2001-2020. Since then, the program has supported 142 apprenticeship teams (a total of 319 artists). We invite you to meet past recipients through this archive of profiles, photos, and videos.

In Good Keeping: Virginia’s Folklife Apprenticeships (2007)

This publication by Jon Lohman and photographer Morgan Miller chronicles the first five years of the program, capturing the masters and apprentices at work. More information.

Real Folk (2020)

Real Folk: Passing on Trades and Traditions of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program was an exhibition organized for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol (March 6–August 2, 2020). The museum produced five video tours in response to the pandemic shutdown. More information.




Sights & Sounds

Margarita “Tata” Sanchez Cepeda & Isha M Renta Lopez

Bomba Dance Bomba is, as Margarita “Tata” Sanchez Cepeda puts it, “all about love. I was taught under love, bomba is a form of love, and we continue to carry …

Sights & Sounds

D. Brad Hatch, David Onks IV and Reagan Andersen

Four years ago, Dr. D. Brad Hatch was one of just two members of the Patawomeck Indian tribe who knew how to weave an eel pot. Now Brad is teaching fellow tribal members David Onks IV and Reagan Andersen how to make eel pots as part of the Virginia Folklife Program’s 2022-23 Apprenticeship Program cohort.

Sights & Sounds

Lemlem Gebray and Datta and Akeza Seyoum

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and Ethiopian beans are arguably some of the best in the world. As legend has it, coffee was first discovered by …

Sights & Sounds

Yara Cordeiro and Ruthie Lezama

Capoeira Starting in the 1500s, Brazilian plantation owners trafficked in enslaved Africans for free labor. In this brutal system, enslaved people worked to death on plantations that benefited of the …

Sights & Sounds

Horace Scruggs, Hannah Scruggs and Niya Bates

Horace Scruggs, his daughter Hannah Scruggs and historian Niya Bates are working together exploring family roots, and navigating the waterways themselves, on the rivers of central Virginia.

Sights & Sounds

Mac Traynham and Ashlee Watkins

Mac Traynham said that there’s a family-like connection in the music communities of southwest Virginia, and it’s why he’s devoted his life to it.

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Walter “Skip” Herman and K.T. Vandyke

Walter “Skip” Herman learned to build guitars from “Uncle” Dave Sturgill around the same time Wayne Henderson did, but Herman became known for his repair skills.

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Chris Testerman, Karlie Keepfer and Sophia Burnett

Instrument Making Chris Testerman has been around instrument makers since he attended Mount Rogers Combined School in Grayson County and played in the Albert Hash Memorial Band, led by Whitetop …

Sights & Sounds

Lelis and Ken Garcia Olaes

Lelis and Ken Garcia Olaes keep Filipino flavors alive at Angie’s Bakery in Virginia Beach.

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Eddie Bond and Andrew Small

Eddie Bond learned how to play fiddle from teachers like Claude Childress and Bass Tate growing up at his granny’s house, now he’s teaching Andrew Small.

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Junious Brickhouse and Tyrone Edwards

Born in 1974, Junious Lee Brickhouse grew up in a musical household in the African American communities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. His mother, Lynda, shared with him her love …

Sights & Sounds

Luz Lopez and Princey Reyes

Luz Maria Lopez was born in the small town of Morocoy, in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after her parents moved there from Michoacán. Her mother …

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Mark Cline and Brently Hilliard

Known as the “P.T. Barnum of the Blue Ridge,” Mark Cline is keeping alive the vanishing tradition of the roadside attraction—those haunted houses, singing caverns, historical parks, and outsized food …

Sights & Sounds

Brian Calhoun and Adam McNeil and Jake Hopping

Brian Calhoun grew up in Rockbridge County, an area rich with many fine players of bluegrass and old-time music as well as a wide variety of acoustic styles. Already a …

Sights & Sounds

Ronald Dixon and William Hinkle

Stained glass master artist Ronald Dixon grew up viewing stained glass art from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in his native Northern Ireland, spending hours in local cathedrals while his …

Sights & Sounds

Emily Spencer and Lisa Ring

Returning to the Folklife Apprenticeship Program in 2019 is the beloved Grayson County clawhammer banjoist Emily Spencer. The clawhammer banjo style is an essential aspect of old time music, an …

Sights & Sounds

Clyde Jenkins and Sam Jenkins, Isaac Lonas, Tanner Good, and Logan Hindershot

Clyde Jenkins grew up in the Shenandoah Mountains in Page County, on the homestead his family has inhabited for generations. Throughout his life working the land, Clyde has acquired a …

Sights & Sounds

Cora Harvey Armstrong and Samantha Willis

Faith is at the heart of Cora Harvey Armstrong’s 50-year career in gospel music. Born and raised in the tiny Newtown community of King and Queen County, Virginia, her family …

Sights & Sounds

Mandkhai Erdembat and Ella and Emma Chuluunbat

Mongolian contortion has existed since the 12th century as a dance called Uran Nugaralt, which translates to artistic bending. This kind of dance was prominent in the royal palaces of …

Sights & Sounds

Nam Phuong Nguyen and Anh Dien Ky Nguyen

The đàn bầu is a monochord (one-stringed) instrument with a central role in Vietnamese folk music. Popular legend claims the đàn bầu was first played by a blind woman in a …

Sights & Sounds

Jeff Bennett and Jeremy Bennett

Ever since the automobile went into mass production by the assembly lines of Detroit, it has been revised, altered, elaborated, and reconstructed in small garages and car shops throughout America. …

Sights & Sounds

Phyllis Gaskins and Anna Stockdale

The regular mountain dulcimer is a fretted string instrument from the zither family which first appeared in the 19th century among Scots-Irish communities. Phyllis Gaskins, of Elkton, Virginia, plays a variant called the Galax dulcimer. …

Sights & Sounds

Sondus Asad Moussa and Sanaa Abdul Jalil

Despite a population of just over 50,000, Harrisonburg is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in  Virginia. Today, the Harrisonburg–Rockingham County community includes refugees and immigrants from …

Sights & Sounds

Bert Carlson and Danny Knicely

While Virginia is seldom thought of a fertile ground for jazz, the state has produced a disproportionate number of artists who have put their indelible stamp on this uniquely American …

Sights & Sounds

Chris Prillaman and Tanner Talley

Franklin County is famous for its long history of producing and selling moonshine, or homemade liquor. Virginia colonists were distilling corn whiskey—boiling a fermented mash of milled grain and then …

Sights & Sounds

Tina Ingram-Murphy and Cheryl Maroney Yancey

Christina “Tina” Ingram-Murphy is the youngest daughter of the late Richmond gospel legend Elder Maggie Ingram. Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Maggie began playing …

Sights & Sounds

Grayson Chesser and P.G. Ross, Mark Ross, Drew Sturgis, and Andy Dunton

The Eastern Shore of Virginia, a narrow peninsula stretching roughly seventy-five miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, has long nourished the artistry of waterfowl decoy carving. The …

Sights & Sounds

Nader Majd and Ali Reza Analouei

Dr. Nader Majd was born in Sari, Iran, and began studying and playing the santur, or Persian hammered dulcimer, and violin at the age of six. He later learned to …

Sights & Sounds

Nate Leath and Aila and Eli Wildman

A long-time resident of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Nate Leath grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, a town in the heart of bluegrass and old-time music country. Nate picked up his …

Sights & Sounds

Gary Horton and Tommy Horton

Gary Horton learned traditional logsmithing and historic home restoration from the late Don Chapman, widely considered the trade’s greatest master in Southwest Virginia. During his lifetime, Don disassembled, restored, and …

Sights & Sounds

Susan Gaeta and Gina Sobel

When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, Ladino, and …

Sights & Sounds

Julia Garcia and Gloria Encinas

In Northern Virginia, a large Bolivian community from the Valle Alto (High Valley) of Cochabamba is maintaining the spirit and customs of their native Quechua culture and language. Through the …

Sights & Sounds

Gene Williams and Lee Bagley

The early 1900s saw a surge of independent candy makers in Virginia, with dozens of confectioners operating statewide, from Bristol to Norfolk. In 1917, a young candy enthusiast named Shafter …

Sights & Sounds

Evelyn Lahman and Dr. T. Michael Gilley

Sadly, Evelyn Lahman passed away on June 13, 2017, shortly after receiving her apprenticeship. A craft originally born of necessity, the fiber arts continue to thrive throughout southern Appalachia. In …

Sights & Sounds

Greg Galbreath and Peter Keller

Just as old-time mountain music has risen in popularity across America and the world, so has the art of banjo making. Unlike the three-finger-picking style for bluegrass banjo popularized by …

Sights & Sounds

Ellen and Eugene Ratcliffe and Hannah Johnson

The square dance is the “official dance” of Virginia, as it is in a majority of states throughout the country. First introduced by European settlers, the square dance developed over …

Sights & Sounds

Scott Freeman, Linda Lay and Kitty Amaral

Watch The early song-collecting journeys of folklorists informed the rest of America about the remarkable breadth of fiddle tunes in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, many of which closely resembled …

Sights & Sounds

Kay Justice and Helen White

There is perhaps nowhere in America with a deeper or more widely recognized ballad tradition than Southern Appalachia. The region has been a draw for ballad scholars (sometimes referred to …

Sights & Sounds

David and Mason Via

While many songs in folk music are credited as “traditional” or “public domain,” there is simply no song without a songwriter. Virginia has had more than its share of prolific …

Sights & Sounds

Joey Mirabile Sr. and Logan Caine

Joey’s Hot Dogs, in Richmond’s West End, is for many the pinnacle of what is one of America’s iconic foods. Joey Mirabile has hot dogs in his blood. His father, …

Sights & Sounds

Mary “Mama-Girl” Onley and David Rogers

Pastor Mary Onley, known as Mama-Girl, is a self-taught artist who was born and raised in Painter, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where she still lives. Her lyrical sculptures are similar …

Sights & Sounds

Richard Pippin and Melissa Jones and Zoe Bearinger

By one estimate, humans took more than 900 billion photographs in 2015 and shared more than 200,000 images per minute on Facebook. This flood of digital images is unprecedented, but …

Sights & Sounds

Humayun Khan and Ved Sheth

Indian classical music has evolved over the centuries, and its many diverse forms reflect the great diversity of the subcontinent of India. Hindustani classical music is traditionally practice-oriented, and learned …

Sights & Sounds

Sochietah Ung and Matthew Regan and Lena Ouk

In the years between 1975 and 1979, the Maoist-inspired radical group, the Khmer Rouge, committed horrific acts of genocide in Cambodia, attempting to collectivize Khmer socioeconomic operations, destroy the traditional …

Sights & Sounds

Herschel Sizemore and Mike Walker

Legendary Roanoke mandolin player and composer Herschel Sizemore returns as a 2016 master artist. When he was eight years old, Herschel’s parents took him to see Bill Monroe perform at …

Sights & Sounds

Andrei Saveliev and Aaron Mott

The balalaika, a traditional Russian stringed instrument with a triangular wooden body, is often referred to as “the Russian three-string guitar.” It was considered a folk instrument in Russia, and …

Sights & Sounds

Jim Bordwine and Baron Bordwine

Nestled in the southern Appalachian Mountains, Saltville is named for its unusually high number of salt marshes, or, as locals call them, salt licks. Saltville’s natural salt deposits have influenced …

Sights & Sounds

Rick Green and Jon Butler

Blacksmithing was among the first craft trades Europeans brought to the New World; in fact, a blacksmith was among the original group of 104 settlers that the Virginia Company of …

Sights & Sounds

Billy Baker and Jack Hinshelwood

Billy Baker, born in 1936 in Pound, Virginia, has lived his whole life surrounded by music. Encouraged by his parents, both banjo players, Baker proved to be a musical prodigy. …

Sights & Sounds

Dale Wise and Lori Sallade

The accordion, a box-shaped instrument first patented in Vienna in 1829, was a folk instrument played largely by commoners. At the turn of the twentieth century, European emigrants took the …

Sights & Sounds

Danny Knicely and Jack Dunlap

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has long been fertile ground for the development of old-time and bluegrass music, and the Knicelys are one of its most prominent musical families. Multi-instrumentalist A. O. …

Sights & Sounds

Sherman Holmes and Whitney Nelson

The Holmes brothers, of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, have been performing a joyous and moving blend of blues, gospel, soul, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country for fifty years. …

Sights & Sounds

Sharon Tindall and Nancy Chilton

Quilting, a method of sewing together two or more layers of material to make a thicker material, has been practiced for thousands of years. While the term “quilting” technically refers …

Sights & Sounds

Sean “Purl” Samoheyl and David Rogers

Sean Samoheyl is a resident of the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa County—an intentional community founded on the principles of egalitarianism and sustainability. One of numerous intentional communities created in …

Sights & Sounds

Cheryl Marcia Maroney and Robinette D. Cross

Many forms of traditional music in Virginia have risen from the church, and the Apprenticeship Program has featured many different styles of gospel singing, including Tidewater gospel singing, Old Regular …

Sights & Sounds

Danny Wingate and Sam Linkous

Appalachia, a region that includes Southwest Virginia, could arguably be called America’s first frontier. As early as the eighteenth century, European settlements began to expand west, with many colonists making …

Sights & Sounds

Francisca Ramirez Acosta and Laura Ortiz

The word mole can refer to any of a number of richly flavored sauces traditionally used in Mexican cuisine, or to dishes based on these sauces. Varieties of mole include …

Sights & Sounds

Jim King and Jackson Cunningham

Beekeeping is the care of honeybee colonies, commonly in hives, to stimulate crop pollination and to ensure the production of honey and other hive products, including beeswax, propolis, and royal …

Sights & Sounds

Buddy Pendleton and Aila Wildman

Buddy Pendleton is one of the true pioneers of bluegrass fiddling, having performed as a young man with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. In the 1970s, Buddy won the …

Sights & Sounds

Flory Jagoda and Aviva Chernick

Flory Jagoda was born in 1925 in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and was raised in the city’s Sephardic Jewish community. When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal …

Sights & Sounds

Wallace Gusler and Bruce Larson

The importation and manufacturing of firearms have been part of Virginia’s history since European settlement. The first documented firearms brought to Virginia in 1607 were muskets equipped with matchlocks, snaphances, …

Sights & Sounds

Harold Mitchell and Dale Morris

If you have attended the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention any time in the last forty years, you will quickly recognize the familiar voice of Galax native Harold Mitchell. Always impeccably …

Sights & Sounds

Garrett Queen and Lana Lambert

Prior to the advent of photocopiers, short run quick print, email, and “social media,” the local letterpress (job-shop) was the primary producer of the vast majority of materials for mass …

Sights & Sounds

Walter Messick and Chris Testerman

The hills of Grayson County, encompassing the small mountain communities around Mt. Rogers, are a veritable hotbed of luthiers—builders of fretted, stringed instruments. Some of America’s finest guitars, mandolins, fiddles, …

Sights & Sounds

Jessica Canaday Stewart and Vanessa Adkins

The Chickahominy Tribe, currently the second largest tribe in Virginia, is based primarily in Charles City County. Because of their historic proximity to Jamestown, members of the autonomous Algonquin-speaking Chickahominy …

Sights & Sounds

Jimmy Boyd and Jared Boyd

The “clawhammer” banjo style is an essential aspect of “old time,” an ensemble-based, hard-driving music form which has inspired dancers across Southern Appalachia for generations. Unlike the more popularized bluegrass …

Sights & Sounds

Gaye Adegbalola and Lorie Strother

The blues is a name given to both a musical form and a genre of music that originated in African American communities of the United States toward the end of …

Sights & Sounds

Wayne Henderson and Jayne Henderson

Wayne Henderson was born, raised and still lives in tiny Rugby, Virginia in Grayson County. He built his first guitar using traced patterns and the wood from the bottom of …

Sights & Sounds

Dudley Biddlecomb and Peter Hedlund

Because of the Chesapeake Bay’s ideal brackish waters, its oyster population was once one of the most plentiful in the nation, and oyster harvesting was long a booming industry throughout …

Sights & Sounds

John Hollandsworth and Sam Gleaves

Patented in 1881 by German instrument repairman Charles Zimmerman, the autoharp first reached popularity in the United States as a novelty instrument. By 1900, by the time the fad had …

Sights & Sounds

John del Re, Kelly Macklin, John Alexander and Diane Ober

Shape note singing is a folk art dating to post-Revolutionary War days, when Americans set folk tunes to religious texts using patented shaped notes to facilitate sight-reading. Meant to encourage …

Sights & Sounds

Earl and Scottie Blake

Earl Blake. (Peter Hedlund/The Virginia Folklife Program) The Latin roots of the term Carnival mean “farewell to meat,” as Carnival falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of …

Sights & Sounds

Gankhuyag Natsag and Zanabazar Gankhuyag

Tsam is an ancient Buddhist ritual performed by skilled dancers wearing elaborately ornamented costumes and masks. The Tsam was first introduced in Mongolia at the beginning of the eighth century when …

Sights & Sounds

Gail Hobbs-Page and Kyle L. Kilduff

Gail Hobbs-Page was given her first pair of goats as a child growing up on a North Carolina farm. “I loved their milk, and I loved the idea that I …

Sights & Sounds

Dave Young and Yvonne V. Young

A cobbler is a craftsperson who specializes in repairing shoes. Although traditionally, cobblers also made shoes, most modern cobblers focus on repair and restoration rather than manufacture of new shoes. …

Sights & Sounds

Sammy Shelor and Ashley Nale

Enslaved Africans brought the earliest versions of the banjo to Virginia. By the nineteenth century, the banjo was America’s most popular instrument, but it was not until the 1940s when …

Sights & Sounds

Northern Neck Chantey Singers and Lewis R. Blackwell Jr.

Menhaden fishing has been a significant economic engine on Virginia’s Northern Neck since shortly after the Civil War. Menhaden are bony, oily fish in the herring family. Unfit for human …

Sights & Sounds

Emily Spencer and Kilby Spencer

The “clawhammer” banjo style is an essential aspect of “old time,” an ensemble-based, hard-driving music form that has inspired dancers across Southern Appalachia for generations. Unlike the more popularized bluegrass …

Sights & Sounds

Phyllis Gaskins and Blue O’Connell

Phyllis Gaskins of Elkton, Virginia, is a master of the Galax dulcimer, an instrument distinguished from the regular mountain dulcimer in numerous ways, with four equidistant strings of the same …

Sights & Sounds

Randal Eller and Drew Plowman

Southwest Virginia boasts some of the finest makers of stringed instruments in the United States. Much of this is a result of the wide-reaching influence and mentoring of the late …

Sights & Sounds

Bill Savage and Bob Savage

While many associate the Eastern Shore with the work of watermen, it is in fact a predominantly agricultural region. Bill Savage grew up on his family’s farm near Painter, Virginia, …

Sights & Sounds

Nader Majd and Ali Reza Analouei

Dr. Nader Majd, of Arlington, Virginia, was born in Sari, Iran, and began studying and playing the santur, or Persian hammered dulcimer, and violin at the age of six. He …

Sights & Sounds

Steve Kilby and Leah Hall

The guitar was primarily used as a rhythm instrument in the United States from the 1800s through the 1930s. As more and more players began to play lead breaks on …

Sights & Sounds

Jason Rutledge and Melanie Carrier and Adam B. Greene

Born to a sharecropper’s daughter on tobacco row in Southside Virginia, Jason Rutledge was educated in the traditional skills of Suffolk horse drawn logging by his grandfather, a man skilled …

Sights & Sounds

Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes

Richmond, Virginia, has been recognized for generations as a “Gospel town,” with a vibrant tradition of African American gospel groups and choirs, and one of its most legendary figures is …

Sights & Sounds

Jay Eagle and Tyler Eagle

Stunningly beautiful Highland County, Virginia, is the southernmost site in the United States for the production of maple syrup, where “Sugar Camps” have traditionally been small-scale, family-run operations. The syrup-making …

Sights & Sounds

Ali Reza Analouei and Behnaz Bibizadeh

Dr. Ali Reza Analouei, born in Esfahan, Iran, has made his life’s work to apply the mystical traditions of Sufism and Irfan to the music he plays and teaches. He …

Sights & Sounds

Bill and Chuck Shelton and Rob Shelton

Thomas Jefferson experimented with eighteen or more varieties of apples at Monticello, only a few miles from the orchard faithfully tended by the Shelton family in North Garden, Virginia. The …

Sights & Sounds

Olin Bare and Bruce Watts

There is a long history of traditional hunting in Rockbridge County and throughout Virginia. Olin Bare’s family traditions including hunting methods have been faithfully handed down ever since his family …

Sights & Sounds

Mac Traynham and Robert Browder

While the first European and African settlers of Southern Appalachia carried with them a strong stringed-instrument music tradition, instruments were often difficult to acquire, leading players to be resourceful in …

Sights & Sounds

John Buck and James R. Lumpkins Jr.

The importation and manufacturing of firearms have been part of Virginia’s history since European settlement. The first documented firearms brought to Virginia in 1607 were muskets equipped with matchlocks, snaphances, …

Sights & Sounds

Ubaldo Sanchez and Jorge Cabrera

Alfombras de arracin (rice carpets) are created in Guatemalan cities and villages during Holy Week. Using dyed sawdust, rice, dried beans, and other vegetable materials, teams of artists create a …

Sights & Sounds

Deborah Pratt and Teddy Bagby

For communities on Virginia’s Northern Neck, the oyster fishery was perhaps the largest and most influential industry from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Men and women employed by the industry …

Sights & Sounds

Mark Campbell and Barrow Wheary and Isaac Akers

The early folk song collecting expeditions of Cecil Sharp and others informed the rest of America about the remarkable breadth of fiddle tunes in southern Appalachia, many of which closely …

Sights & Sounds

Jimmy Price and Alex Handley

Working from his home business not far from the site of his grandfather’s farm in Amherst, Virginia, Jimmy Price is a master of traditional building craft skills once prized and …

Sights & Sounds

Frances Davis and Annie James

Known as “Fried Apple Pies,” “Dried Apple Pies,” or even “Fried Dried Apple Pies,” these locally made pies seem to have a ubiquitous presence throughout Southwest Virginia, appearing on the …

Sights & Sounds

Kathy Coleman and Callie McCarty

When the American Folklore Society was established in 1901, a critical part of its stated mission was to document the “oral literature” of the southern Appalachian Mountains, as this region …

Sights & Sounds

Moges Seyoum and Bililign Mandefro

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the oldest of all Eastern Christianities. A defining characteristic of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the elaborate singing or chanting which takes place often for …

Sights & Sounds

Frank Newsome and Buster Mullins

The singing of the Old Regular Baptists is one of the oldest and deepest veins of American spiritual singing traditions. This hymnody, with elaborate, lined-out, unaccompanied singing is prevalent throughout …

Sights & Sounds

Sandra Bennett and Linda Wright

An appreciation of Appalachian fiber arts has often been hindered by stereotypical images of Appalachia as a poverty-stricken region, where women had to make every article of clothing and bedding …

Sights & Sounds

Tom Van Nortwick and Andrew Elder

Tom Van Nortwick of Franklin County is Virginia’s master of pinstriping, the precise application by hand of a thin line of paint to create designs on auto body panels. Tom …

Sights & Sounds

Bob Cage and Jim Crawford

For more than a century, million of pounds of some of the highest-grade cigarette tobacco in the world have been grown by farmers in what has been called Virginia’s “Old …

Sights & Sounds

Herschel Sizemore and Spencer Blankenship

The mandolin was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, and was popularized by Bill Monroe, who featured the instrument as a cornerstone of his …

Sights & Sounds

Scott Fore and Cheryl Lunsford

The guitar was primarily used as a rhythm instrument in the United States until the late 1930s. As more and more guitar players began to play lead breaks on the …

Sights & Sounds

Charles McRaven and Willie Lehmann and Daniel Malcolm

Charles “Mac” McRaven has been building with stone, log, and hewn logs since he was eleven years old. His parents built their homes in the 1940s with the help of …

Sights & Sounds

The Madison Hummingbirds and the “Rookies”

In 1903, an African-Portuguese immigrant named Marcelino Manoel de Graca (Charles Manuel Grace), the son of a stonecutter from the Cape Verdean Island of Brava, came to the southeastern Massachusetts …

Sights & Sounds

Thornton Spencer and Martha Spencer

The early song collecting journeys of folklorists informed the rest of America about the remarkable breadth of fiddle tunes in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, many of which closely resembled …

Sights & Sounds

Elton Williams and Earl Sawyer

The steel drum, or “pan” as it is called in the Caribbean, was invented in Trinidad about the time of World War II. Afro-Trinidadians resourcefully crafted this musical instrument out …

Sights & Sounds

George Butler and Warner Rice

The story of Reedville, Virginia, is linked to the commercial fishing industry that developed late in the nineteenth century. From this tiny fisherman’s town located between the Potomac and Rappahannock …

Sights & Sounds

John Cephas and Marc Pessar

While perhaps not as well known as the Mississippi Delta style, Virginia has long been home to its own style of blues—the Piedmont Blues. And, just as it is in …

Sights & Sounds

Laura Ortiz and Ariel Hobza-Ortiz

Mexicans comprise one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in Virginia. This emerging cultural community has already contributed a plethora of traditional folkways to the diverse tapestry of Virginia Folklife, including …

Sights & Sounds

Jack and Nannie Branch and John Maeder

There is probably no other traditional food more associated with Southwest Virginia than country ham. Unlike the more commonly known wet-cured ham, which is soaked in brine or injected with …

Sights & Sounds

Olen Gardner and Ross Matthews

The Folklife Apprenticeship Program includes various styles of banjo playing, so it was a natural fit to add one in banjo making, along with the invaluable skill of vintage instrument …

Sights & Sounds

Gerald Anderson and Spencer Strickland

Southwest Virginia has always had a rich tradition of luthiers—the builders of stringed, fretted instruments, and mandolin maker Gerald Anderson is considered among today’s true masters. Gerald spent more than …

Sights & Sounds

Mary Beery and Joan Knight and Mollie Beery

The Shenandoah Valley has long been home to some of the country’s finest quilters. Among those who have contributed to the quilting tradition of the region are the Mennonites, who …

Sights & Sounds

Mike Seeger and Seth Swingle

Mike Seeger has devoted his life to singing, playing, studying, teaching, and documenting the old-time music of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Over the years, Mike has absorbed a wide range …

Sights & Sounds

Patrick and Aaron Olwell

The flute has long held a prominent place in traditional Irish music, but the practice of making flutes specifically for Irish music is relatively new. For many years, Irish musicians …

Sights & Sounds

Ofosuwa Abiola-Tamba and Monica James

While there is now a greater understanding and appreciation of the African origins of much of Virginia’s expressive culture, these roots were long ignored, misunderstood, or held in diminished regard …

Sights & Sounds

Clyde Jenkins and Sam Cave

The traditional skill of making baskets from white oaks is hundreds of years old, involving an in-depth study of the grain structure of the tree. Each white oak tree behaves …

Sights & Sounds

Norman Amos and John Buck

The art of snake cane carving is practiced throughout the world, and has a rich history in southern Appalachia. The process begins when a vine wraps itself around a tree …

Sights & Sounds

Brenda and Shannon Joyce

Flatfooting, an old-time dance style closely associated with traditional string band music, is quite distinct from its closest cousin, clogging, in that the dancer’s feet barely leave the floor. Distinct …

Sights & Sounds

Broto Roy and Sunil Chugh

Broto Roy is a master of the 5,000-year-old tradition of tabla drumming of India. The tabla is composed of two drums, one made of wood and the other of metal. …

Sights & Sounds

Spencer Moore and Ben Moore Jr.

When the late folklorist Alan Lomax set out on one of his legendary “Southern Journeys” in 1959, he stopped in Chilhowie, Virginia, to record a tobacco farmer named Spencer Moore …

Sights & Sounds

John D. Clary, Lonnie Moore, Phil Batchelor, and Chiles Cridlin

What began, according to area legend, as a communal meal prepared for a hunting expedition on the banks of the Nottoway River in 1828, the cooking of Brunswick stew has …

Sights & Sounds

Buddy Pendleton and Montana Young

Buddy Pendleton of Patrick County has lived a life in bluegrass music. Buddy is one the most beloved fiddlers in Southwest Virginia, and a common fixture on the leader board …

Sights & Sounds

Asha Vattikuti and Janhavi Kirtane

Kathak dance is an ancient story-telling dance form, originally performed by bards to narrate the stories of gods and goddesses in the temples of Northern India. Asha Vattikuti has spent …

Sights & Sounds

Larry Counts and Dee Puckett and Thomas Vail

Broom making has enjoyed a long history in Appalachia and throughout Virginia. Initially, brooms were made primarily as a home craft, and then later became a vibrant cottage industry. Broom …

Sights & Sounds

Mildred Moore and Bonnie Sears

The Pamunkey Indian potters have been creating their distinctive blackware pottery since before the first contact with Europeans in 1607. Born and raised on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, Mildred Moore …

Sights & Sounds

Ganell Marshall and Sarah Mullins

A version of corn shuck doll making was likely first introduced to settlers in Southwest Virginia by Native Americans, though it was also a staple craft of early Mission Schools …

Sights & Sounds

Joe Ayers and Patrick Hester

Joe Ayers has literally written the history books regarding the development of the banjo in America. Joe, who lives in an eighteenth-century house in the gently rolling hills of rural …

Sights & Sounds

Penny Stilwell and D. Gail Lawrence

Born out of necessity long before refrigeration, “canning”—the process of preserving traditional jams, jellies, relishes, and pickles by hand—has been elevated by master canners such as Penny Stilwell into an …

Sights & Sounds

Grayson Chesser and Robie Marsh, Jr.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia, a narrow peninsula stretching roughly seventy-five miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, has long been a veritable hotbed of decoy-carving masters. The …

Sights & Sounds

Audrey Hash Ham and Carl Powers

There is perhaps no sound more associated with the Blue Ridge Mountains than that of a bow gliding across the strings of a fiddle. While much attention has been focused …

Sights & Sounds

Flory Jagoda and Susan Gaeta

When the Sephardic Jews were forced into exile from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century, many settled in other Mediterranean countries but preserved their native language, called Ladino. Flory …

Sights & Sounds

C. Marshall Cofer and Rebecca Austin

Long before the majority of agricultural life became mechanized, farmers relied on draft horses and other animals to carry out most of their daily tasks and to serve as the …

Sights & Sounds

The Paschall Brothers

Hampton Roads, the growing metropolitan area at the convergence of the James River, Atlantic Ocean, and the Chesapeake Bay, produced more than two hundred a cappella gospel quartets in the …

Sights & Sounds

John Rinehart and Don Fitzgerald

Ever since the automobile has been mass produced by the assembly lines of Detroit, it has been revised, altered, elaborated, and reconstructed in small garages and car shops throughout America. …

Sights & Sounds

Kinney Rorrer and Jeremy Stephens

Kinney Rorrer is considered the premiere scholar and performer of the three-finger banjo style first popularized by the great “North Carolina Rambler,” Charlie Poole. “Three-finger” banjo playing consists of deftly …

Sights & Sounds

William Rogers and Amin Ghaderi

William Rogers uses a coal-fired forge, an anvil, and some time-tested hand tools to perpetuate the centuries-old skill of blacksmithing. Exposed to the craft at an early age, William recalls …


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