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Singing their way into history; remarkable journey captures and preserves centuries old folk songs

One hundred years ago, two intrepid British “song catchers” began a three-year pilgrimage to Appalachia, starting in western North Carolina, to collect variants and versions of English and Scottish folk songs as sung by descendants of immigrants from the British Isles. Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles braved challenging terrain to visit singers and record the notes and words of the songs. Out of their work has come the English Folk Dance and Song Society based in Cecil Sharp House in London, the US-based Country Dance and Song Society, and a remarkable collection of centuries-old songs still sung today.

A three-year celebration of the people and the songs has begun both in the US and England.  Join us as we trace, share, and highlight this journey.

Special Concert December 28 in Blowing Rock!
"Strong Mountain Women"
Donna Ray Norton
performs ballads from the Appalachians

Cecil Sharp's Appalachian Photographs

Opening November 30, 2017
January 30, 2018
at the
Blowing Rock Art and History Museum

From 1916 to 1918, English Ballad Collector Cecil Sharp traveled the Appalachian region to document variants of these songs and photographed some of the singers who shared their songs. These 24 rare photographs offer a stunning window into the life of Appalachian people in the period and will be on display for the first time in the United States. The exhibition will be traveling to additional locations in the coming months.

Mrs. Hannah Mitchell, Mrs. Effie Mitchell, Mrs. Becky Mitchell

“The Mitchells are a wonderful clan, living in a small narrow creek about a mile from the hotel.  They are considered a very low-down lot by the richer people here who wonder why we like them and go there so often.”
Sharp diary, Burnsville, NC, September 27, 1918

Read about the 2016 Centennial of Jane Gentry's time of singing for Cecil Sharp held in Hot Springs, North Carolina

Letter from Cecil Sharp

Our Facebook Page linked here

We wish to acknowledge the gracious assistance of the
London, England
in putting together this project.
EFDSS was founded by Cecil Sharp
The Vaughn Williams Library holds the Sharp photographs and
has granted us permission to use them for this purpose.

English Folk Dance and Song Society