Raymond Strum

Raymond Strum is considered one of the elder statesmen among musicians in the tri-county area, equally adept at singing a shuffling country weeper or a high lonesome bluegrass song.

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Alan Stallings

Within the musical community of Halifax County, Alan Ralph Stallings is known as a musician’s musician. Stallings is also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist; in addition to the guitar—the instrument on which he accompanies himself during most performances—he plays the bass, piano, and drums.

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Roy Burroughs

Work in Progress is a mixture of traditional hymns and contemporary music, all of which Burroughs arranges meticulously. “Music has always been in me,” he says, “and I suspect it always will be.”

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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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Hugh Carroll

Hugh Carroll credits his success to his family and to God. “Without them,” he explains, “I could not have done the concerts that I was doing.” The Carroll Family currently includes Hugh, son Russell, daughter-in-law Becky, and grandchildren Bella, Gracie, Lydia, and Olivia.

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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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Carolyn Long

Among Long’s childhood recollections is a memory of her grandmother and cousins gathering to make soap. The soap was made with lye and lard put aside at hog-killing time. Long remembers the finished product as large, rough blocks that contained a variety of colors.

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Ellis Vaughan

Vaughan had a longtime interest in building with wood, dating to his high school days in the late 1930s when he attended shop class. He remembers his excitement at the new-found skills: “I thought I could build near-about anything I wanted now. And I could.”

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Wade Schuster

Schuster is the type of musician whom other musicians admire—a gifted and affable performer just as adept at performing a rollicking country tune as he is a three-quarter-time weeper.

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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.