In 2018 the North Carolina Folklife Institute sponsored the photography exhibit Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian Photographs. Offered in partnership with Cecil Sharp in Appalachia, the Country Dance and Song Society, and the North Carolina Humanities Council, Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian Photographs was the first US exhibition of these rare photos of Appalachian ballad singers taken by an important folk music collector.
From 1916-1918, English ballad collector Cecil Sharp traveled the Appalachian region to document variants of traditional songs and photographed some of the singers who shared their music. These 24 rare photographs offer a stunning window into the life of Appalachian people in the period and will be on display for the first time in the United States. More information: www.cecilsharpinappalachia.org.
One hundred years ago, two intrepid British “song catchers” began a three-year pilgrimage to Appalachia, starting in western North Carolina, to collect variants and versions of English and Scottish folk songs as sung by descendants of immigrants from the British Isles. Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles braved challenging terrain to visit singers and record the notes and words of the songs – as well as these photographs.