Mattie Taylor

Taylor has made countless Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls in the last two decades and has sold them to families all over the country. Some of the most recognizable characteristics of her dolls are their finely embroidered facial features.

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Otha Wilkins

Over time, Wilkins became a formidable accordion player, adept at playing traditional songs in the genres of bluegrass, country, old-time, and gospel. His repertoire includes songs like “The Kentucky Waltz,” “Corrina, Corrina,” “Blue Skirt Waltz,” and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”

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Matt Nelson

“I started playing harmonica when I was 13 years old,” he remembers. “I bought my first one from Rose’s dime store in Littleton for a quarter, and I learned to play ‘Oh Susanna’ on it.”

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Portia Hawes

Her quilts, which have been shown in exhibitions in the region, include both traditional and original patterns and motifs, and she still draws inspiration from the quilts that her mother made many years ago.

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Wayne Reid

“A lot of people own guitars,” laughs Henderson native Wayne Reid. “But everyone that owns a guitar is not a musician.”

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Moka Henry Lynch

Lynch’s pipes are some of his most distinctive work, combining strong figural images on the carved-stone bowls with delicately carved wooden stems. One of his favorite stem designs features a deep double spiral pattern in gleaming exotic wood.

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Cameron Eaton

“I always heard music,” says Eaton. “When I was playing, I would hear music chiming in my ear. It was always something that was with me, whether I had an instrument or not.”

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Patrick Draffin

Patrick Draffin says of his upbringing, “I was raised to understand that stories are our history, and that’s how you learn it. [I] was told at a very early age, ‘Listen to your elders.’”

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Chambergrass – Kim Terpening & Dave Schwartz

“Most of the time, we try to keep the songs pretty pure in what they are, whether they’re classical or bluegrass. We try not to mix them up too much. We’ll mix in little things, but I think 80% of what we do is pretty much either bluegrass or classical.”

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About the Project

In 2010 and 2011, the North Carolina Folklife Institute—with partners including the Warren County Library and Arts Council, members of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, and the Concerned Citizens of Tillery—conducted research on the living and historical traditions of Warren, Vance, and Halifax Counties. The project is a chapter of NCFI’s Statewide Heritage Initiative, which has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Resourceful Communities Program of the Conservation Fund.

NCFI folklorists Michael Taylor and Sarah Bryan interviewed dozens of tradition bearers in the three-county region, Taylor working primarily with musicians, and Bryan documenting non-musical traditions. The fieldwork was supplemented by interviews that Taylor conducted in 2009 with Warren County musicians, as part of the New Harmonies exhibit, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Humanities Council. Bryan also researched archival sources of documentation on the area’s folklife traditions. The Haliwa-Saponi Tribe made available interviews conducted in 2010 for the Haliwa-Saponi Arts Documentation Project, which provided important insight for the project as well. Photographer Christopher Fowler made portraits of many of the artists who participated in the project, and photographic documentation of their work. Throughout the research, NCFI received invaluable guidance from community-based advisors, including Sue Loper, former Director of the Warren County Library; Gary Grant, Director of the Concerned Citizens of Tillery; Marty Richardson, of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe; and Jereann Johnson, cofounder of the Heritage Quilters.

Read more ….

The audio recordings, transcripts, photographs, and other materials gathered in the course of this research are archived at the North Carolina Folklife Institute in Durham, and will be archived at the offices of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe in Hollister and at the Warren County Library in Warrenton as well.

Click here for an electronic copy of this report.

Click here for full-color PDF’s of artist profiles.

Full-color PDFs of artist profiles are available from the North Carolina Folklife Institute. Contact NCFI at (919) 383-6040 or staff@ncfolk.org.