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How Cecil Sharp Collected The Sights And Sounds of Appalachia

An image of song collector Cecil Sharp
Courtesy of Donald Hughes

In 1916, British song collector Cecil Sharptraveled 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.

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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