How Cecil Sharp Collected The Sights And Sounds of Appalachia

Jan 26, 2017

Cecil Sharp traveled to Appalachia in 1916 to collect the folk songs of the region
Credit Courtesy of Donald Hughes

In 1916, British song collector Cecil Sharp traveled to the United States to explore folk traditions in the Appalachians. During his time, Sharp knocked on the doors of homes, interviewing Appalachian residents and listening to their songs. He documented hundreds of folk ballads that would eventually influence a folk-revival in both England and the U.S.

While the music Sharp collected is well-documented, the photographs he took along the way have relatively remained in the shadows. A new exhibit showcases the images Sharp captured during his time in Appalachia. The exhibit is on display at Through This Lens gallery in Durham through Saturday, Feb 11.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Donald Hughes, project coordinator for the Cecil Sharp in Appalachia Project, about Sharp’s legacy in folklore. Musician Joe Penland also performs songs from Sharp’s collection on guitar and vocals.