2021 Appalachian Heritage Festival – Saturday, Sept. 25
The Appalachian Heritage Festival at Shepherd University was founded 25 years ago. Over that time, thousands of community members, schoolchildren, and students have been introduced to the diverse culture of Appalachia and our state through workshops, lectures, and concert performances by our region’s most outstanding artists, historians, and cultural ambassadors. This year’s Festival has been reimagined to adapt to our current COVID-19 conditions to offer a great FREE series of events on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 SCHEDULE
Free workshops at Reynolds Hall (face masks required for safety)
2:00 p.m. — The Legacy of the Carter Family of Virginia
There are few artists who have influenced American music more than the Carter Family of Maces Springs, Virginia. Don’t miss a chance to learn about the profound impact of their music from Linda Lay.
3:30 p.m. – A Conversation with traditional artist John Morris
A master of traditional fiddle, banjo, and guitar, John Morris has spent his life as an ambassador for West Virginia’s musical traditions. He has been 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.
7:00 p.m. – FREE SHOWCASE CONCERT
Outdooor Patio between Frank and Butcher Center on West Campus.
Join us for a FREE outdoor concert at 7 pm on the patio between the Butcher Center and the Frank Center on the West Campus of Shepherd University. Bring your favorite lawn chair and enjoy a diverse evening of music featuring West Virginia traditional musician John Morris, winner of the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship Award; Dana Foddrell with Freedom Songs of the Civil Rights Movement born from the African-American church; and bluegrass legend Linda Lay with Springfield Exit. If we have inclement weather, the event will move inside the Frank Center Theater and masks will be required. Currently no masks are required outdoors.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
John Morris is an award-winning fiddler, banjo player, guitarist, songwriter, and life-long resident of Clay County, West Virginia who was recognized in 2020 with the National Endowment for the Arts’ highest lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the preservation of traditional arts, the National Folklife Fellows Award. John Morris is the living carrier of the old-time fiddle and banjo tradition particular to his rural home county and the surrounding area. West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard, who nominated Morris for the award said, “John has dedicated his life to sustaining, promoting, and supporting the musical tradition of his Clay County community through the founding and hosting of community-based festivals, his labor activism, regular performances, and his ongoing commitment to teaching younger practitioners. His playing is infused with all the sounds of Clay County—its environment, its history, and its people.”
See the National Endowment for the Arts tribute about John Morris here
Linda Lay and Springfield Exit
Buckle up for amazing harmony singing and driving bluegrass rhythms. With a powerhouse voice and remarkable range, Linda Lay is one of the best singers in bluegrass and country music. She leads an exceptional ensemble of award-winning musicians in Springfield Exit. The core trio of Linda, her husband David Lay, and multi-instrumentalist David McLaughlin formed nearly two decades ago, joining their varied experiences and creating a feel of their very own, combining elements of bluegrass and country with sounds stemming from their Appalachian roots.
Linda Clayman Lay hails from Clayman Valley, a tiny community named after her family outside of Bristol, Tennessee. She grew up surrounded by music in a family that treasured songs, from old-time and bluegrass to gospel and traditional country. Her father, mandolinist Jack Clayman, formed a family band that he took to informal community gatherings to jam and perform with local musicians. Linda grew up enjoying Saturdays at the Carter Family Fold. Here she got to know Jeanette and Joe Carter, son and daughter of A.P. and Sara Carter of the original Carter Family. She was influenced by the Carter Family as well as her Virginia community’s musical traditions in a way that now influences new generations of musicians and listeners.
Linda has toured nationally with the masters of the Steel String Guitar and was the featured vocalist and bassist. Linda is a master artist in traditional singing for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Along with banjoist, Sammy Shelor, they recorded a project “Taking the Crooked Road Home” for the Virginia Folklife Program under the direction of Jon Lohman. Linda has performed with singers across several genres of music, from the likes of Vern Gosdin, Carl Jackson, Bruce Hornsby to Piedmont blues singer John Cephas and master of the telecaster, Bill Kirchen.
See Linda and Springfield Exit performing “I’ve Endured.”
The daughter of a Baptist preacher, Dana Foddrell was born and raised singing in the church. Her father, Rev. Moyer Foddrell, Jr. would call her up to sing for Sunday services, funerals, and weddings. Dana says “although my knees would be shaking, I would pray that God would use my voice to encourage people. When my prayer was finished the holy spirit took over and I belted out songs of praise! My mother would smile so proudly and tell me that I reminder her of her mother, the late Louise Rogers, who was the pianist and director of the Jewels Youth Choir, at Wainwright Baptist church in Charles Town, WV.” As the years passed, Dana continued to sing in church as well for local theaters and events. Following in her footsteps, her nieces, nephews, and my children, Kya, Kyle, & Kaleb were raised singing in the church. Today, she is a member of Wainwright Baptist Church where her grandmother played, sung, and directed the choir and her father still preaches from time to time, and her mother smiles every time she hears Dana sing. On our program, she will be presenting Freedom Songs from the African American church tradition that went on to become the soundtrack for the civil rights movement in America and around the world.
The Appalachian Writer-in-Residence project sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities will move forward as scheduled. This year the project focusing on the work of Appalachian writer Marie Manilla. See the schedule of events here.