GSMA shares Grammy stage with music legends
“Old-Time Mountain Music,” a compilation of 34 1930s-era regional recordings that until two years ago lay buried in Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s archives, just missed winning the 2013 Grammy for Best Historical Album on Feb. 10 in Los Angeles. The award was presented instead to “The Smile Session,” a Beach Boys’ compilation.
“It was a huge honor to even be considered for a Grammy alongside musicians like Sir Paul McCartney, Woody Guthrie, the Beach Boys and Arizona Dranes,” said Steve Kemp, Great Smoky Mountains Association interpretive products and services director and CD co-producer.
“It really shows how deeply people feel about our old-time mountain music and how the Great Smokies are a special place cherished by millions of people around the world.”
Kemp traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend with GMSA publications specialist Lisa Horstman and Ted Olson, professor of music at East Tennessee State University and CD co-producer. They were members of a team of producers who worked to bring acetate disk recordings into the light of day, starting with the music’s originator. Linguist and folklorist Joseph S. Hall in the 1930s was encouraged by the administrators of the new national park to collect speech, folklore and music from people who had been or were soon to be relocated to land outside park boundaries. Made in 1939, Hall’s recordings are a treasury of the music played and enjoyed in North Carolina and Tennessee communities during country music’s early days and before the coming of bluegrass.
Additional present-day members of the CD production team included professor Michael Montgomery of the University of South and sound John Fleenor, ETSU’s media preservation specialist for the Archives of Appalachia, who did all of the restoration work. Horstman designed the CD package, using vintage photos from the National Parks Service and a photo of contemporary fiddler Charlie Acuff on the cover.
The wide variety of selections on the CD includes songs, ballads, and instrumentals, performed by over 20 different musicians.
“These performers are the true Grammy nominees,” said Kemp. “I can just imagine what they would have said if they could have been with us on the red carpet.”
Performers and their residences at the time of the recordings are:
John Hannah, Little Cataloochee community, Haywood County
Bessie Rabb, Allens Creek, Haywood County
Myrtle Conner, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Jack Johnson, Tuckaleechee Cove, Blount County, Tennessee
Cataloochee Trio (Wayne Wright, Slick Wilson, David Proffitt), Cataloochee, Haywood County
Bill Moore and Vic Peterson, Waynesville
John Davis, Shorty Smith, Herman Smith, David Proffitt, Chub Karns, Francis Lum, Cataloochee Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Cataloochee
Bill Moore's Quartet, Waynesville, Haywood County
Carl Messer, Cove Creek, Haywood County
The Leatherman Brothers, Bryson City
Bill Moore, Paul Buchanan, Hardy Crisp, Haywood County
Clarence Sutton, Del Rio, Cocke County, Tennessee
Jim Sutton, Cataloochee, Haywood County
Helen Gunter, Mt. Sterling, Haywood County
Willis and Dexter Bumgarner, Allens Creek, Haywood County
Zeb and Winfred Hannah, Cove Creek, Tennessee
Boyd Strickland, Joe, Madison County
Robert Ray, Jefferson County, Tennessee
Betty Messer, White Oak, Cove Creek