MOUNTAIN MUSIC – Oral Histories

Trailer for our new film, A GREAT AMERICAN TAPESTRY — The Many Strands of Mountain Music

WNCW, the mountain music flagship station in the Carolinas, interviews director/producer of A GREAT AMERICAN TAPESTRY, David Weintraub. 

Betty Smith a seventh generation ballad singer, discusses the mountain ballad tradition and her connection to it.

Sheila Kay Adams, a seventh generation ballad singer from Sodom Laurel in Madison County, NC discusses the role that music played with her elders.

Joe Penland, a tenth generation ballad singer, discusses how the music was handed down across the generations and the powerful experience connecting to another person that way.

Bobby McMillon is a seventh generation ballad singer from western North Carolina.  He discusses his quest to collect the old songs from his family and community.

David Holt, four time Grammy Award winning musician, storyteller and preservationist discusses the last generation of ballad singers he met in Sodom Laurel, Madison County, NC.

Phil Jamison is a professor of Appalachian Studies at Warren Wilson College who discusses the many different roots of mountain music including the Scots-Irish and African-American traditions.

Cece Conway is a professor of Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  She discusses the history of the African banjo as it evolved in America as well as the black fiddle tradition.

Dom Flemons is a Grammy-award-winning banjo player and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops who discusses the disappearance of the black banjo and why this history has been forgotten.

Rhiannon Giddens is a Grammy-award-winning musician and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops who discusses the history of the African banjo and how it became a keynote instrument of American music through the minstrelsy and beyond.

Joe and Odell Thompson were the last of the old black string band players in North Carolina from a long line of black musicians in the south.  Joe discusses where he first heard Cindy Gal and Joe and Odell play the song. Courtesy of Nancy Kalow.

Bo Taylor is a Cherokee musician and the director of the Museum of the Cherokee at the Qualla Boundary. Bo discusses how the Cherokee adapted to changing times and changing influences as part of the natural process of growth and evolution of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.