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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Panhandle Peter, "Legend of Mountain Music"
James Howard Nash, aka "Panhandle Pete" a Haywood County "Legend of Mountain Music"

Homegrown Music: A Haywood County Tradition

Once called the "Gateway to the Smokies," Haywood County is located just east of the Great Smoky Mountains in the Blue Ridge range. With deep roots in the Scots-Irish culture of its people, Haywood County has been blessed with generations of traditional musicians, who have maintained oral and musical traditions over the last 200 years. Its performers include fiddlers, banjo pickers, guitar players, ballad and folk singers, and clogging and square dance teams. Traditional mountain music is celebrated in many county events: "Pickin' in the Park" in Canton; music and dance in Maggie Valley at the Stompin' Ground, known as the "Clogging Capital of the World"; nightly bluegrass music at the Maggie Valley Opry House; summer square dancing in downtown Waynesville; and annual events such as the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival at Lake Junaluska, Singing on the Mountain and the Bluegrass Jam Sessions at Fines Creek, and the Christian Harmony Shaped-Note Singing at Morning Star United Methodist Church.

Worried about keeping the musical traditions alive, especially as aging musicians and music historians die, Haywood Countians interested in traditional music began an effort to preserve the treasured culture and document local history. The county's community newspaper, the Enterprise Mountaineer, invited a group of local musicians and music historians to document the county's traditional music. The paper formed a committee to sort through the names of performers and choose 14 who best represented the county's musical heritage. Beginning in March 1997, the paper began a weekly series of articles featuring 14 local legends of traditional music and dance; the series was so successful among readers that the Mountaineer republished the 14 articles in tabloid format entitled "Legends of Mountain Music" on September 1, 1997.

Soon after the tabloid was published the legends committee welcomed leaders from the library and arts community to help establish an archive for local mountain music. Haywood County Public Library now houses an archival and circulating collection of recorded music and memorabilia from Haywood's past traditional musicians; recordings of live and studio performances by current local musicians on tapes, records, and CDs; and videotaped oral histories from selected musicians and their families; and photographs.

The project is documented with information on the organizations partnering on the project, a three-page written report on the history and geography of Haywood County, a four-page report on the Legends of Mountain Music, two CDs, "Homegrown Music, A Haywood County Tradition," Vols. I and II; a master-list of music and liner notes/profiles of the musicians on the CDs; the tabloid "Legends of Mountain Music"; and a videotape.

Originally submitted by: Charles H. Taylor, Representative (11th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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