photo of Kathy Mattea
Arlin Geyer/Warren Wilson College

For the last 25 years, the Swannanoa Gathering has brought thousands of people from across the world to experience the old-time musical traditions of Appalachia.

The five-week program features workshops in traditional folk, guitar composition and Celtic music and includes instruction from Grammy award-winning musicians like Janis Ian and Tom Paxton.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle singing the ballad 'Lord Bateman' with a 'crankie.'
Laura Candler

When traditional Appalachian musician Anna Roberts-Gevalt first showed ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle a crankie, Elizabeth was speechless.

“I really freaked out,” LaPrelle said. She was astounded not only because she had never seen one before, but also because it was such a powerful tool for storytelling.

Thistle And Shamrock: Sheila Kay Adams

Feb 13, 2013

For seven generations her family has passed down English, Scottish and Irish ballads that crossed the Atlantic with their ancestors in the 1700s. Join Fiona and an intimate audience at the Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week to enjoy Appalachian ballads and stories of a unique singer, author, tradition bearer and cultural treasure: Sheila Kay Adams.

Swannanoa Gathering

In 1991, the campus of Warren Wilson College outside Asheville, North Carolina hosted the first Swannanoa Gathering. From dulcimer workshops to Celtic music traditions, the multi-week, summer intensive featured instruction on just about all aspects of folk art. The first Gathering drew just under a hundred people. Now more than 1,000 flock to Warren Wilson College annually to participate in the program. Jim Magill, director of The Swannanoa Gathering, joins host Frank Stasio to talk about how the small folk culture series grew into a state tradition that draws iconic artists like Janis Ian, Tom Paxton and Patty Larkin to the mountains of North Carolina.