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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Alan and Betsy Reid

Visit any musical function in Warren County—say, the Friday-night Norlina Jamboree or the Ridgeway Opry House on a Saturday eveningnight—and you’re likely to find Alan and Betsy Reid at the core of the house band.

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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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Wallace Evans

Growing up in a farming family in Granville County, Wallace Evans and his siblings sometimes helped their mother tack quilts that she had pieced, by the potbelly stove, in the wintertime.

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Sparkie Watts

“My father was a guitar player, and that’s where I picked it up at an early age, I guess,” he says. “I still have a J-50 Gibson guitar that he bought in 1953.”

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Delores Amason

Delores Amason is not only a gifted pianist and singer; the Tillery native is also an unofficial regional historian with a deep understanding of the place that she calls home.

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John Earl Alston

Alston has had a lifelong fascination with insects, which began when he was a child and would save biscuit crumbs to feed ants in order to observe the orderly way in which the ants carried them away.

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Doris Davis

Davis makes all manner of sewn items—dresses, skirts, blouses, underwear, overcoats, tote bags, slipcovers, drapery, and much more. “You’d be amazed at the things you can do if you just try,” she says.

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Karen Lynch Harley

My work tells a story, and that is the most important thing to me, is to tell a story. I don’t do a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, as just something nice to look at. I want it to tell a story.

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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.