Sights & Sounds

John del Re, Kelly Macklin, John Alexander and Diane Ober

Shape note singing is a folk art dating to post-Revolutionary War days, when Americans set folk tunes to religious texts using patented shaped notes to facilitate sight-reading. Meant to encourage …

Sights & Sounds

Sammy Shelor and Ashley Nale

Enslaved Africans brought the earliest versions of the banjo to Virginia. By the nineteenth century, the banjo was America’s most popular instrument, but it was not until the 1940s when …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Nat Reese: A Man and A Half

It is with heavy hearts that we relay the news of the passing of blues man Nathanial “Nat” Reese of Princeton, West Virginia. He was 88. Our sadness is only …

Sights & Sounds

Remembering Frank Paschall, Jr

With heavy hearts we share the news of the passing of Frank Paschall Jr., a dear friend of the Virginia Folklife Program and the eldest brother of the beloved Tidewater …

News

Elder Frank Newsome wins NEA National Heritage Fellowship

We announce with great pleasure that The Reverend Frank Newsome, a dear friend of the Virginia Folklife Program, is the recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that …

Sights & Sounds

Northern Neck Chantey Singers and Lewis R. Blackwell Jr.

Menhaden fishing has been a significant economic engine on Virginia’s Northern Neck since shortly after the Civil War. Menhaden are bony, oily fish in the herring family. Unfit for human …

Sights & Sounds

Emily Spencer and Kilby Spencer

The “clawhammer” banjo style is an essential aspect of “old time,” an ensemble-based, hard-driving music form that has inspired dancers across Southern Appalachia for generations. Unlike the more popularized bluegrass …

Sights & Sounds

Phyllis Gaskins and Blue O’Connell

Phyllis Gaskins of Elkton, Virginia, is a master of the Galax dulcimer, an instrument distinguished from the regular mountain dulcimer in numerous ways, with four equidistant strings of the same …

Sights & Sounds

Randal Eller and Drew Plowman

Southwest Virginia boasts some of the finest makers of stringed instruments in the United States. Much of this is a result of the wide-reaching influence and mentoring of the late …

Sights & Sounds

Nader Majd and Ali Reza Analouei

Dr. Nader Majd, of Arlington, Virginia, was born in Sari, Iran, and began studying and playing the santur, or Persian hammered dulcimer, and violin at the age of six. He …

Sights & Sounds

Steve Kilby and Leah Hall

The guitar was primarily used as a rhythm instrument in the United States from the 1800s through the 1930s. As more and more players began to play lead breaks on …

Sights & Sounds

Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes

Richmond, Virginia, has been recognized for generations as a “Gospel town,” with a vibrant tradition of African American gospel groups and choirs, and one of its most legendary figures is …