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

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

78th Galax Old Fiddlers Convention recap

The Virginia Folklife Program’s photographer Pat Jarrett joined Jon Lohman at the 78th Galax Old Fiddlers Convention. Here’s a photo recap of the week.

Sights & Sounds

In loving memory of Audrey Hash Ham

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia have lost one of their most cherished jewels with the passing of Audrey Hash Ham. Audrey was truly a “friend of the music,” …

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

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

Remembering Nat Reese: A Man and A Half

It is with heavy hearts that we relay the news of the passing of blues man Nathanial “Nat” Reese of Princeton, West Virginia. He was 88. Our sadness is only …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Frank Paschall, Jr

With heavy hearts we share the news of the passing of Frank Paschall Jr., a dear friend of the Virginia Folklife Program and the eldest brother of the beloved Tidewater …


Elder Frank Newsome wins NEA National Heritage Fellowship

We announce with great pleasure that The Reverend Frank Newsome, a dear friend of the Virginia Folklife Program, is the recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that …