Louis Sachs

With experimentation at home using his own woodworking equipment and further inspiration from the DIY Network, Sachs was soon making a variety of hand-turned bowls in traditional and contemporary forms carved from solid wood, while others are segmented and combine a variety of pieces of wood.

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David Lynch

Lynch remembers that his relatives would fashion plain walking sticks, which they stained with pecan oil. Today he makes both plain and ornamented walking sticks, the latter featuring snakes, faces, and other forms suggested by the natural contours of the wood.

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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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Royal Jubilee Singers

“The Lord has blessed us,” says Jones. “We have been to many places. We’re getting slower in age now, but God continues to bless us.”

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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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Peggy Stocks

Through her class she has made a significant contribution to the renaissance of quilt-making in this part of North Carolina, teaching many students who have gone on to become expert quilters as well.

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Freida Harlow

Each Saturday night, visitors can find Freida presiding over performances at the Opry House, often singing or playing a mountain dulcimer, or introducing visiting musicians to the enthusiastic audience. “If anybody needs me for anything special and I can help them out here with the Opry, I will do it.”

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Wayne Hermann

During his many years of carving spoons, Hermann has mastered the techniques that make his work so distinctive. From his father he learned about the importance of how wood is finished, and his spoons are sanded to a silky smoothness.

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Bishop Dready Manning

Inspired by the fleet-fingered playing of musicians like Blind Boy Fuller, Brownie McGhee, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed, he had one goal: “I wanted to be a blues guitar player.”

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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.