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March 2, 1992: Musician Virginia Wilson Dies at 92

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Musician Virginia Wilson died on March 2, 1992, at age 92. She was born in 1900 in what is now part of Chief Logan State Park.

Wilson was a master of the clawhammer-style banjo but was little known outside of her native Logan County for much of her life. That changed at age 58, when she was discovered by West Virginia University folklorist Patrick Gainer.

During the 1960s and 1970s, “Aunt Jennie,” as she was affectionately known, became a regular on the festival circuit. She also recorded traditional music for the Library of Congress and released an album produced by West Virginia native Billy Edd Wheeler.

Wilson was equally beloved for her wit and insights into life. One of her favorite sayings was ‘‘don’t take more on your head than you can kick off your heels’’—challenging people to enjoy life to its fullest. She also loved to recount stories from Logan County history. In 1984, Wilson received the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folk-life honor. And each Labor Day weekend, Wilson’s grandson, Roger Bryant, hosts a music festival in her honor at Chief Logan State Park.

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