Musicologist, writer, and producer Alan Lomax spent over six decades working to promote knowledge and appreciation of the world’s folk music. He began his career in 1933 alongside his father, the pioneering folklorist John Avery Lomax, author of the best-selling Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. In 1934, the two launched an effort to expand the holdings of recorded folk music at the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress (established 1928), gathering thousands of field recordings of folk musicians throughout the American South, Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast, as well as in Haiti and the Bahamas. Their collecting resulted in several popular and influential anthologies of American folk songs, including American Ballads and Folk Songs (New York: Macmillan, 1934); Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (New York: Macmillan, 1936), the first in depth biographical study of an American folk musician; Our Singing Country (with Ruth Crawford Seeger) (New York: Macmillan, 1941); and Folk Song USA (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce 1947).
Alice Gerrard is a talent of legendary status. In a career spanning some 50 years, she has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music. A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award. Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including projects with many traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, Luther Davis and Matokie Slaughter; with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich as Tom, Brad & Alice, with the Harmony Sisters, the Herald Angels, Beverly Smith, and with Anna R-g and Elizabeth LaPrelle. With her in-depth knowledge of mountain music, she has produced or written liner notes for a dozen more. She also co-produced and appeared in two documentary films.
Simply put, Alice Gerrard is a talent of legendary status. In a career spanning some 50 years, she has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music.
Alice is particularly known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s. The duo produced four classic LPs (recently reissued by Rounder on CD) and influenced scores of young women singers — even The Judds acknowledge Hazel and Alice as an important early inspiration.
Alice four solo albums, Pieces of My Heart, and Calling Me Home, and Bittersweet (produced by Laurie Lewis), were released to critical acclaim in Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited, New Country, and other publications. These superb recordings showcase Alice’s many talents: her compelling, eclectic songwriting; her powerful, hard-edged vocals; and her instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and old-time fiddle. Her 2015 album, Follow the Music (produced by Mike Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger) was nominated for a 2015 Grammy. Her most recent albums in 2016 and 2017 are collaborations: Wonderful World Outside with the Piedmont Melody Makers and Tear Down the Fences with Kay Justice. In 2018 she issued some old practice tapes of Hazel and herself working on songs. These had never actually been recorded before. They are on the Free Dirt label and also available through this website: Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-1969.
Alice has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including projects with many traditional musicians such as Tommy Jarrell, Enoch Rutherford, Otis Burris, Luther Davis and Matokie Slaughter; with Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich as Tom, Brad & Alice, with the Harmony Sisters, the Herald Angels, Beverly Smith, and with Anna R-g and Elizabeth LaPrelle. With her in-depth knowledge of mountain music, she has produced or written liner notes for a dozen more. She also co-produced and appeared in two documentary films and is the subject of a work in progress: You Gave Me a Song - https://bluegrasstoday.com/you-gave-me-a-song-the-life-and-music-of-alice-gerrard/
A tireless advocate of traditional music, Alice has won numerous honors, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award, a Virginia Arts Commission Award, the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Tommy Jarrell Award, and an Indy Award. In 2017 Alice was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame along with Hazel Dickens. A film about her life and music ("You Gave Me a Song") has been completed and was shown at the Full Frame Festival in Durham, NC in April.
In 1987 Alice founded The Old-Time Herald and the Old-Time Music Group, a non-profit organization that oversees publication of The Old-Time Herald. Alice served as editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald from 1987 till 2003. She continues to perform solo and with The Piedmont Melody Makers, Kay Justice, the Herald Angels Band, and occasionally with Beverly Smith and Tom Sauber and Brad Leftwich.
In 2022, “You Gave Me a Song: A Film about Alice Gerrard” was produced by The Groove Productions and made possible in part through vital support from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources as part of their “SHE CHANGED THE WORLD: NC WOMEN BREAKING BARRIERS” and “COME HEAR NC” programs. This film offers an intimate portrait of old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard and her remarkable, unpredictable journey creating and preserving traditional music. The film follows eighty-four year old Gerrard over several years, weaving together verité footage of living room rehearsals, recording sessions, songwriting, archival work, and performances with photos and rare field recordings. Much of the film is told in Alice’s voice and via interviews with musical collaborators and family members who share the story of Alice and others chasing that high lonesome sound.
Photo Credit: Irene Young | ireneyoungfoto.com
Dr. T. R. Bryan Wilkes Heritage Museum Music Award: Billy Gee
Billy Gee was born in La Plata. He says, “Being able to play music gives me a huge thrill and I feel very fortunate to have had great musical influences to help me develop as a musician”. He was encouraged to join the elementary school band in fourth grade beginning with the trumpet. Later this evolved into a fascination with the guitar and bass and led to his first pop rock band in junior high and high school.
After graduation from La Plata High School he attended Appalachian State University and received a business degree in 1973. There he met and played with many western North Carolina musicians. Having completed his education he moved back to his beloved Southern Maryland and married Brenda Cooksey. Together they decided to make Wilkes County their home.
Billy and Donnie Story in popular regional groups and toured the east coast and southern states. Later he joined Jeff Pardue, Randy Gambill, Roger Miller and Keith Oliver in their group, Backstreet, which toured England and Scotland in 2002. After the death of international bluegrass legend Charlie Waller, Billy became one of the founding members of the Circuit Riders. Years later he was a founding member of the Tone Blazers, who produced three albums.
Billy has recorded on several album projects, including the Circuit Rider’s “Let The Ride Begin” and Eric Ellis’ “Every Night Before Breakfast.” He also performed with the Country Gentlemen at the 2005 Presidential Inaugural Celebration in Washington, D.C
He has performed at many bluegrass festivals on the east coast and is proud to have had the privilege to perform at every MerleFest since 1992. He is honored to be a part of The Banknotes annual tribute to Bill Young at Merlefest.
He truly values his ties with local, influential musicians, including: Donnie Story, Randy Gambill, Jeff Pardue, Tony Joines, Wes Tuttle, Mike Palmer, RG Abasher, Eric Ellis, Buddy Wright, Chris Bryant, Clay Lundsford, Steve Lewis, David Culler, Dennis Shaw, Jody Call, Josh Day, Jens and Uwe Kruger, Joel Landsberg, and many others. Billy performs with many of them to this day.
When not performing, Billy operates his own guitar repair business, Guitar Specialist. Guitar Specialist is a respected warranty station for several brands including Martin, Taylor, and Fender. One of his many clients was the legendary Doc Watson.