ISSUED: 22 February 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War (GTMC) is hosting a Facebook livestream discussion on the evolution of American folk music from the 18th century into the early 20th century on Thursday, March 4, at 7 p.m. Panelists include Dr. James Broomall, GTMC director, Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, assistant professor of history, Rachael Meads, assistant director of student engagement, and Timothy Ware, GTMC administrative assistant. At various points during the program, Bankhurst on banjo and Ware on violin will offer their musical talents to play a variety of songs.
Folk is the music of the people passed down through oral traditions as well as the musical styles played on various instruments such as the violin or banjo. Each song provided a means to tell the story of community, hope, anguish, and any number of emotions that are experienced.
In America, this tradition began with the arrival of the first colonists. As settlements pushed into the interior, becoming increasingly isolated, the music they carried with them also changed into something unique. As the country progressed through the colonial period, new, entirely American forms of music came to fruition. Even as the music changed, it also retained former elements so that after decades of evolution one song could have numerous variations that changed from region to region.
In the early 19th century, everyday Americans begin composing songs like “Turkey in the Straw” or “Arkansas Traveler.” Songwriters like Stephen Foster, who wrote “Camptown Races” and “Oh Susanna,” added to the tradition. By the early 20th century, American folk music, in all its different variations, had left its own mark on musical history, forming the roots of the music enjoyed today.
To learn more and attend the event, visit the GTMC Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/georgetylermoorecenter/.
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