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Smoky Mountains Music Nominated for Grammy (more than 60 years later)

The 1939 recordings provide a rare glimpse at traditional mountain music


A CD of mountain music recorded in 1939 around Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been nominated for the 2012 Emmy for Best Historical Album.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as the most visited protected area in the United States. In 2009, the park boasted 6.4 million visitors who came to hike, fish, paddle and otherwise soak in the beautiful scenery.

Based on the recordings on Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music, it seems the area was no less beautiful or inspirational 60 years ago.  

The CD captures an era of the region’s music before the invention of bluegrass. A variety of styles, ranging from traditional ballads from the British Isles to African-American blues-based songs, give listeners a glimpse into the life of these southern musicians. Song titles include “My home Is in the Smoky Mountains,” “On Top of Old Smoky” and “Up on Pigeon River.”

If you're curious what the music sounds like, click on this link to hear sample clips.

The music and stories on the album were recorded by Joseph S. Hall, a young graduate student, who spent nine months submersed in the local culture. He attended church services with the local people, lived in their homes and worked alongside them to put up hay and hang tobacco.

Sixty years later, the park’s nonprofit educational partner, Great Smoky Mountains Association, turned the recordings into a CD of 34 historic songs, ballads and instrumentals. The CD also comes with written information and photos collected by the surviving musicians and their descendants.

To find out more about the project, visit the Great Smoky Mountains Association's website.

Via National Parks Traveler.

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