History award well-deserved
The real trick to engaging people with history is to make it fun. That’s exactly what the CD “Songs of Haywood County” accomplished, and is what netted it the unanimous vote of the N.C. Society of Historians judges when it came to the Paul Green Multimedia Award.
The dozen songs on the tape all refer to a historical event, person or place in Haywood County, and the toe-tapping music that accompanies the lyrics is as engaging as the story being told.
The history of the Canton paper mill is told in the first song on the album, “Papertown.” It’s also a song that has gone on to become the title of a new CD by Balsam Range, whose own Buddy Melton was a songwriter and musician for the “Songs of Haywood County” album.
On the county history musical production, Melton was joined by Grammy-award winning bass player and performer Mark Winchester and International Bluegrass Music Association’s nominee for 2012 songwriter of the year, Milan Miller.
The songs take listeners back to the Civil War days of a Home Guard murder; a time when Sam Queen and his square dance troupe performed for the Queen of England; the story of legendary moonshiner Leitha Hicks and the story of Nance Dude, who left her grandchild in a mountain cave because her son-in-law made it clear he didn’t want it and times were so tough she couldn’t find a home for her.
The album mentions most major areas in the county, from the Big Gun that’s part of Clyde’s town square, to Maggie Valley’s reluctant namesake to the first man hanged in Haywood County.
The album was relased in 2008 when Haywood County was celebrating its bicentennial.
Events that became building blocks for songs on the album include construction of the interstate, the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a story of the Pigeon River.
The history award not only speaks volumes about the songwriters and performers on the production, but also brings honor to Haywood County.
The CD can be purchased at Smoky Mountain Roasters and Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. The CD is also one of the selections for music fans attending Balsam Range concerts.
Congratulations to all involved with the “Songs of Haywood County” effort. You do us proud.