News / USA

    American Old-Time Music Alive, Thriving in Rural Virginia

    Mountain people continue musical heritage that began centuries ago

    People of all ages danced to tunes at the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition in Grayson County, Virginia.
    People of all ages danced to tunes at the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition in Grayson County, Virginia.
    June Soh

    American bluegrass music originated with immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales beginning in the early 1600s. Those early settlers made their homes in the Appalachian Mountains in what's now eastern United States.

    Through their music, they told stories about their struggles and daily life.  Americans living today in a section of the Appalachian Mountains known as the Blue Ridge Mountains continue that musical heritage.  

    Bluegrass festival

    On a recent Saturday, traditional American bluegrass music resonated in a park in the Blue Ridge Mountains.



    People of all ages danced to tunes at the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition.  It is one of the biggest events in rural Grayson County in southwest Virginia.

    "Well, to all of us it's very important.," says Becky Ward, president of the festival. "We have about 2,000 people in attendance each year. It's very important to Wayne to continue on the traditional Appalachian style music in this area."

    The annual event started 16 years ago to honor Wayne C. Henderson, a master guitar maker and musician who has spent all his 63 years in the region.

    Wayne Henderson performs at the recent music festival in Virginia.
    Wayne Henderson performs at the recent music festival in Virginia.

    In recent years, the purpose of the festival has evolved into raising scholarship money to help young musicians in the region.

    "We give scholarships for up to 21 years old," says Ward, the festival president . "We also give to local groups, but we only take scholarship applications from local Appalachian region children or groups that are trying to promote traditional music." 

    Passing the tradition on

    Besides the festival, the community has a program to connect children to their musical heritage.  It is called Junior Appalachian Musicians or JAM.

    Helen White, a former school counselor, founded the after-school program 10 years ago.

    "I know a lot of very sad stories of many mountain children," says White. "And I also knew how important music was in my own life, and how much fun, and what a sense of community the music of the mountains brings."

    "I really love the music and you make a lot of friends by it," says Danielle Yochter, 11, a participant in the JAM program. "And you get to play with people like Wayne Henderson."

    The Junior Appalachian Musicians program connects children to their musical heritage.
    The Junior Appalachian Musicians program connects children to their musical heritage.

    The festival features some of the region's best musicians, as well as outside entertainers like Kandra Walker, part of a seven-member family band called, The Red Head Express.

    "We originally left Alaska on tour to learn the old music and bluegrass and we got to meet Wayne Henderson. And he invited us to the festival and one thing lead to another.  It's an honor to be here."

    The festival also benefits local tourism and people come from across the country.

    "Oh, it's a great festival.  We try to come every year and enjoy the hospitality of the folks here," says Dale Mossis, resident of a neighboring county. "And it's like a family reunion. You get together and see folks you've not seen maybe in several months or a year."

    The villagers say the music is a big part of their lives and they take pride in keeping the deep-rooted musical tradition in the area.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora