Buna Vista Presnell Hicks
1888 – 1984
“She was a loving person, and enjoyed her music.”
-luthier Charlie Glenn
One of the most prominent figures in Beech Mountain’s folk arts legacy, Buna Vista (or Vesta) Presnell Hicks, known as Buny (pronounced “Byewny”), was both a prolific musician, and the matriarch of a family that included many other musicians and craftspeople. The year of her birth is usually listed as 1888, but according to oral tradition she herself was unsure of her exact age, having no formal documentation of when she was born. She is known to have lived nearly a century, though, remaining a vital and engaging presence into old age. Luthier Charlie Glenn, whose wife Shirley Glenn is her great-granddaughter, remembers that Buny “…sat up ’til ten, eleven o’clock at night playing her fiddle when she was probably up in her nineties.”
Born at Egg Knob on the north side of Beech, Buna was in her early teens when she married Roby Monroe Hicks (1882-1957). Roby, an accomplished musician, was a grandson of legendary Watauga County storyteller and musician Council Harmon. Buna and Roby’s children included several prominent traditional artists, including National Heritage Award recipient Stanley Hicks, ballad singer Hattie Hicks Presnell, singer Linzy Hicks, and luthier and musician Captain Hicks.
Buna Hicks made a major impact on North Carolina’s traditional music and other folklife, and she is seen and heard throughout the Jack Guy Collection.
Listen to Buna Hicks in the Jack Guy Collection:
Foxfire: “I’m More Interested in Music Than Anything Else” (an article and photos of Buna Hicks and Hattie Hicks Presnell)