A new take on old American folk: A Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecture

January 27, 2017

Grammy nominee Ted Olson will come to Lees-McRae on Wednesday, February 1, to present a program on his latest award-winning album, On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music. Beginning at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium, Olson will entertain and enlighten his audience as part of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia Lecture Series.

While teaching Appalachian studies at East Tennessee State University, Olson received five Grammy Award nominations, won an International Bluegrass Music Association Award as well as the Jack Spadaro Documentary Award for his work as a music historian.

In addition to his awards, Olson also wrote his book Blue Ridge Folklife and two collections of poetry. He served as associate editor and music section editor for The Encyclopedia of Appalachia, co-editor of The Bristol Sessions: Writings about the Big Bang of Country Music and has served as the book series editor for The Charles K. Wolfe Music Series (University of Tennessee Press).

Olson’s latest project is the album he will discuss on February 1. He produced On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music, which has been named the Best Tribute Album at the 15th Annual Independent Music Awards.  With the help of other members of the Appalachian Studies Department at ETSU, he has put together a collection of old-time music sung by present day artists. The Great Smoky Mountains Association released the project, and all proceeds from the sale of the album will support the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“This new album offers 23 never-before-released performances of the classic American folk music repertoire,” Olson said. “These remarkable performances reinterpret field recordings collected in the Smokies by folklorist Joseph S. Hall, who documented the musical culture of Smokies residents as they were leaving their homes and farms during the park’s development.”

On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music features new recordings of traditional songs, ballads and tunes by such important contemporary voices as Dolly Parton, Norman Blake, Sheila Kay Adams, David Holt and other well-known musicians.

“We are excited about Olson’s appearance and look forward to learning about the album and hearing some traditional music,” Director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae Michael Joslin said. “We invite everyone to share the evening with us.”

Stephenson Center Lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Michael Joslin at joslin@lmc.edu.  

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