Mars Hill University

Roots of American Music Conference – Day 4



Today our first song had a very unique history.  The song is a ballad sung by a lady named Addie Graham.  To find out more about Addie Graham and her interesting life and contributions to our American folk music heritage, here is a link to the wikipedia page about her, her life and her recordings. HERE

According to Wikipedia this song is perhaps an adaptation of ante-bellum abolitionist publications.  Although it is a song about the horrors of slavery there is no indication that the text had any roots in African American musical tradition.  It was an interesting and VERY challenging ballad to tackle, and because of the complexity and the seriousness of the text, I prefer to share with you the REAL recording of Addie Graham rather than our class attempt.


We also discussed which song we will present as a class at our student showcase tomorrow afternoon.

Blues Singing

Today was a sort of master class where students were encouraged to choose a song and then our teacher worked with individuals.  It was a fascinating experience to see and hear each singer take on new and more stylistically authentic vocal techniques as they worked one on one with our instructor on a song of their choice.  My turn comes tomorrow.  I had a real challenge on my hands choosing a song as my blues repertoire is limited, (which is why I am here). But I’ll wait until tomorrow to post about the experience.

We also planned for which song and how we would present as a class to represent our work for the week.


Songwriters Circle

The songwriters circle is full of conversation and good ideas about how to develop a song, how best to collaborate and how to refine the process.  I have missed writing so!  Getting a chance to simply talk about the process of writing is both refreshing and inspiring. Today’s conversation was such a treat.

Duet Singing

Today ballads and duet singing merged as the duet we focused on most today is entitled “Two Soldiers”.

Again, the work we did in class was really marvelous, but in this case, the work doesn’t yet do the song justice, so I’m going to post a good recording and call it happy. 🙂

This is my ballads and duets teacher Alice Gerrard singing with Hazel Dickens