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.

Warrenton Echoes

Founded in 1957, the Echoes—who currently count founders Roy “June” Foster and James Carter, along with younger recruits James Martin, Jr., Previs Foster, Reginald Allen, and Smith, Jr., as members—have long been celebrated performers on the Upper South’s gospel circuit.

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.

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.”

Arlene Bice

Arlene Bice’s interest in ghost stories began some years ago, in her native New Jersey, when she and her family members were all visited—independently and unbeknownst to one another—by the same apparition in the old house in which they lived.

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.

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.’”

Heritage Quilters

Heritage Quilters Fabric artists Warren, Vance, and Halifax Counties Celebrating its tenth year in 2011, the Warrenton-based Heritage Quilters is both a circle of artists, and an alliance of citizens who care about the past, present, and future of the region. The twenty members provide each other with artistic inspiration and support. They also serve… Read more…

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.”

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.

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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.