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 Earl Blake: Carnival Costume Master

We are shocked and sad to report the passing of Virginia Folklife Master Artist Earl Blake, who died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday, June 16. A dear friend of …

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 …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Spencer Moore

The Virginia Folklife Program lost a dear friend this June in Spencer Moore, the “singing tobacco farmer” from Chilhowie, Virginia. He was ninety-two. Born into a large family in North …

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 …

Apply for an Apprenticeship

Virginia Folklife Apprenticeships will begin on May 1, 2020 and run through May 1, 2021. The application deadline for this cycle is January 31, 2020.