ISSUED: 14 September 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Costa
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Appalachian Heritage Festival at Shepherd University will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Saturday, September 25. In the past quarter century, thousands of community members, schoolchildren, and students have been introduced to the diverse cultural traditions of Appalachia and West Virginia through workshops, lectures, and concert performances by the region’s most outstanding artists, historians, and cultural ambassadors. In celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary and Shepherd’s Family Weekend, all events, including the showcase concert, will be free and open to the public.
Rachael Meads, festival director, said the event was started to introduce the Eastern Panhandle community to the traditions and culture of West Virginia and the greater region beyond the stereotypical portrayals often found in pop culture. Over the years, the event has featured more than 70 musicians, poets, writers, and dancers including nationally recognized cultural ambassadors like Jean Ritchie, John Cephas, Walker Calhoun, Ralph Stanley, and Hazel Dickens.
“It has been an honor to broaden our community’s understanding of the rich diversity found in our region and to place it in context of American history and culture,” Meads said.
This year’s program will feature West Virginia old-time musician and National Heritage Award-recipient John Morris; Freedom Songs from the African-American church from Dana Foddrell; and music of the original Carter Family and bluegrass from Linda Lay and Springfield Exit.
Face masks are required inside all campus buildings. Those attending performances in person will be required to follow Shepherd’s current COVID-19 policies. Before attending this or any event on campus, visit our COVID-19 information page to learn what policies are in effect.
Workshop and concert schedule:
- 2 p.m.— “The Legacy of the Music of the Carter Family of Virginia,” Reynolds Hall (face masks required). There are few artists who have influenced American music more than the Carter Family of Maces Springs, Virginia. A chance to learn about the profound impact of their music from award-winning bluegrass musician Linda Lay, who learned from the children of the original Carter Family.
- 3:30 p.m.— “A Conversation with Traditional Artist John Morris,” Reynolds Hall (face masks required). A master of traditional fiddle, banjo, and guitar, John Morris has spent his life as an ambassador for West Virginia’s musical traditions and a master artist as part of the West Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. In 2020, Morris received the nation’s highest award for folk arts, the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
- 7 p.m.— Showcase Concert, Butcher Center Plaza (no face masks required). Bring your favorite lawn chair and enjoy a diverse evening of music featuring West Virginia traditional musician John Morris; Dana Foddrell with Freedom Songs of the Civil Rights Movement born from the African-American church; and tight harmonies from bluegrass legend Linda Lay with Springfield Exit. In the event of inclement weather, the event will move inside the Frank Center Theater and masks will be required.
For more information about the artists, visit the festival website.
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