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Appalachian Heritage Festival and Writer-in-Residence events planned September 21-28

ISSUED: 5 September 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WVPlease Note: The Festival Showcase Concert has moved to Reynolds Hall.

Shepherd University’s annual Appalachian Heritage Festival and Writer-in-Residence program will take place September 21-28, featuring the work of author Karen Spears Zacharias and music by Doris Fields, Xavier Oglesby, The Modock Rounders, Robert Mitchell, Nick Blanton, and Adam Booth.

Zacharias will take part in several events, both on and off campus, to celebrate her fiction and her book “Mother of Rain,” which is this year’s One Book, One West Virginia statewide common reading selection. Books written by Zacharias give the community the opportunity to explore a range of topics, including the collateral damage of war and the trauma of post-traumatic stress disorder that goes beyond the battlefield and affects the community.

Her father’s 1966 death in the Vietnam War led Zacharias to become a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She tells her family’s struggle to survive the death of a heroic soldier-father in the book “After the Flag Has Been Folded: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost to War—and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together.” The book is a memoir about the personal struggles after the conflicts are over.

The Modock Rounders, a traditional string band from the Kanawha Valley, features Kim Johnson, Jesse Pearson, and Cody Jordan. Johnson has been playing claw hammer banjo since the 1970s when fiddler Wilson Douglas took her under his wing. Since then, she has played with some of the most highly influential West Virginia fiddlers of the last 40 years. Pearson and Jordan are both award-winning fiddlers from Point Pleasant.

Doris Fields, also known as Lady D and “West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul,” is a master soul and blues musician and songwriter living in Beckley. The daughter of a coal miner, she has grown up steeped in the African-American traditions of West Virginia. She is the founder and organizer of West Virginia’s Simply Jazz and Blues Festival. In 2008, Fields’ original song “Go Higher” was selected to be performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration ball. Fields is part of the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Folklife Apprenticeship program as a master artist sharing her knowledge of blues and gospel with singer Xavier Oglesby.

Bringing music from the Scottish Isles, Mitchell is an accomplished studio musician with more than 30 years’ experience performing on the great highland bagpipes and the Scottish small pipes. He was the founder and piper major of the Dunloggin Pipes and Drums Band for 25 years and played with the pan-Celtic folk band IONA. In 2004, Mitchell was the recipient of the Maryland Traditions Folk Arts and Culture Apprenticeship Award as a master in the art of piobaireachd, the classical music of the Scottish bagpipe. Blanton is a master instrument maker who builds custom hammered dulcimers and a musician who has performed on studio recordings and in live concerts with dozens of different ensembles.

Booth’s storytelling blends traditional folklore, music, and the stories of Appalachia in an original voice that has earned him master artist spots at the International Storytelling Center, National Storytelling Festival, and at festivals across the country in more than 17 states. He is the founding director of the Speak Story Series in Shepherdstown and teaches in the Appalachian Studies program at Shepherd.

Activities planned for the week include:

Friday, September 21

Saturday, September 22

Monday, September 24

Tuesday, September 25

Wednesday, September 26

Thursday, September 27

Friday, September 28

For more information about Writer-in-Residence program, visit For more information about Saturday’s festival events, contact Rachael Meads at

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