Twenty-three-song compilation, released by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, features compelling performances of timeless Appalachian regional classics by leading roots musicians, including Dolly Parton, Norman Blake, Bryan Sutton, Alice Gerrard, Tony Trischka, Stephen Wade, Sheila Kay Adams, Martin Simpson, Dom Flemons, Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, Courtney Hartman, and David Holt.
In the image of the fiery phoenix’s rebirth, Great Smoky Mountains Association will release its third album of traditional American music, this time featuring artists of today recreating songs performed by Smoky Mountain residents at the time of the development of a national park.
On Top of Old Smoky: New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music, one of several National Park Service Centennial-recognition projects produced by GSMA this year, features new recordings of traditional songs, ballads, and tunes by leading American roots music luminaries, including Dolly Parton, Norman Blake, Bryan Sutton, Alice Gerrard, Tony Trischka, Stephen Wade, Sheila Kay Adams, Martin Simpson, Dom Flemons, Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, Courtney Hartman, and David Holt. The street date is August 21, 2016.
“This new album offers 23 never-before-released performances of the classic American folk music repertoire,” said Ted Olson, professor of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University and one of the album’s producers. “These remarkable performances reinterpret field recordings collected in the Smokies by folklorist Joseph S. Hall, who documented the musical culture of Smokies residents as they were leaving their homes and farms during the park’s development.”
Hall, a trained linguist from Southern California and named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in GSMNP History, was commissioned by the National Park Service to document the speech of the people being displaced by the park’s creation. Begun in 1937, his work continued and his appreciation for the people of east Tennessee and western North Carolina grew into a four-decades-long mission to dispel the negative stereotypes of the region’s people. Hall’s recordings went unheard until 2010, when GSMA released Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music, a work that would go on to be nominated for the Best Historical Album Grammy award.
“Hall’s recordings from the Smokies have subsequently inspired many of today’s roots musicians by providing authentic examples of folk music from previously unknown but talented regional musicians,” said Olson. “The same qualities showcased on Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music can be heard throughout On Top of Old Smoky, as these new performances by some of America’s most respected roots musicians are in equal parts resonant, raw and real.”
The new CD includes “Come, All You Young Ladies” performed by Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin; “Man of Constant Sorrow” by John Lilly; “Ground Hog” by Alice Gerrard; “John Hardy” by Martin Simpson with Dom Flemons; “Mole in the Ground” by Sheila Kay Adams; “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home” by Bryan Sutton; “The Dying Cowboy” by Norman and Nancy Blake with the Rising Fawn String Ensemble; “Conversation With Death” by the Brother Boys; and “Little Rosewood Casket” by Dolly Parton.
“Whether established or emerging artists, the musicians on this album respect older performing styles and older repertoire and are culture-bearers, much like the musicians that Hall recorded way back when,” said Olson.
Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has supported the preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by promoting greater public understanding and appreciation through education, interpretation and research. A non-profit organization, GSMA has provided more than $34 million to the park during its 60-year history. For more information, visit http://www.SmokiesInformation.org .