Dale Jett is a native of Scott County, in deep Southwest Virginia. The son of Janette Carter and the grandson of A. P. and Sara Carter of the legendary Carter Family, his roots have been steeped within the heart of his family’s musical heritage.
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Nat Reese is a stunning acoustic-blues singer who, at age eighty-six, plays with relentless passion and soul. Reese was born in Salem, Virginia, in 1924, but soon moved with his family to the coal camps of West Virginia. Nat learned songs from itinerant black musicians who rode the rails from one mountain coal camp to another.
Matthew Bright is a young musician from the Flatwoods community in Wise County, Virginia. He began playing bluegrass banjo as a kid when his dad bought him an old Sears and Roebuck Silvertone banjo. By age fifteen he was playing bluegrass gigs with his cousin Fiddlin’ Dale Kennedy’s band.
For the past thirty years Ron Short, a native of the Appalachian Mountains of Dickenson County, has been the creative force behind Roadside Theater, an internationally known touring theatre based on the history and lives of Appalachian people.
The traditions of “white-spiritual” music thrive in Southwest Virginia. Scott and Mike Mullins were raised in Clintwood, in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia. Born into singing families, their repertoire has consisted of spiritual and gospel music. Scott’s late father, Billy Gene Mullins, was a coal miner, a musician, and Freewill Baptist minister.
Sixteen-year-old Molly Slemp of Wise County has been singing since the age of three. Molly sings mountain ballads and coal mining songs with a voice that is arresting and textured beyond her years.
The singing of the Old Regular Baptists is one of the oldest and deepest veins of American spiritual singing traditions. This hymnody, with its elaborate, lined-out, unaccompanied singing is prevalent throughout the coalfield region of central Appalachia, but is barely known outside this region.
he African American tradition of chantey-singing is being kept alive by the Northern Neck Chantey Singers, former watermen who perform around the country. We are fortunate that seven of the members of this group, led by Elton Smith, Jr. of Shacklefords, Virginia, carry on this storied singing tradition, keeping these chanteys alive.
Todd Meade is a most impressive old time and bluegrass fiddler, carrying on the musical heritage of the Big Moccasin area of southwestern Virginia. Todd has played extensively with bluegrass bands throughout the region, including Dr. Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys, Carolina Road, and Appalachian Trail.