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 …