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

Remembering Houston Caldwell

It is with tremendous sadness that we report the passing of Houston Caldwell, eighteen, of Galax, Virginia. Houston was gifted and promising young banjo player, and a dear friend. I …

Sights & Sounds

Breaking Up Christmas

When Christmas is over, the fun is just getting started for many in Southern Appalachia. The tradition of “Breaking Up Christmas” is a week-long series of gatherings, where people get …

Sights & Sounds

The Paschall Brothers and Tidewater Gospel Quartets

A Virginia-based a cappella quartet earned the “gospel album of the year” award at the 2009 Independent Music Awards. The Paschall Brothers of Chesapeake sing four-part harmony in a style …

Sights & Sounds

Acoustic Youth

Many of the musicians who perform at fiddler’s conventions and music festivals throughout southern Appalachia are, in fact, young kids. Late in the night, long past their bedtimes, children and …

Sights & Sounds

The Old Jimmy Sutton

A masterful songster recorded by two folklorists, fifty years apart. When the late folklorist Alan Lomax set out on his now infamous “Southern Journey” in 1959, he stopped in Chilhowie, …

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 resembled …

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

Herschel Sizemore and Spencer Blankenship

Mandolin apprentice Spencer Blankenship with mentor Herschel Sizemore (photo by Morgan Miller/Virginia Folklife Program) The mandolin was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants in the 19th century, and …

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

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 songs …

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