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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid