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.

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Arnetta Yancey

“I realized that as much as things have changed in the world as a whole, people still look for those old songs that pulled their ancestors through. That’s what those hymns do. Today, people are still looking for those songs.”

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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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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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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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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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Marty Richardson

The Stoney Creek Singers are now a venerable institution within the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, and have inspired younger generations of singing groups such as Blue Moon and the Red Earth Singers.

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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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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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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.