The Inside Appalachia Folkways Project

The Inside Appalachia Folkways Project expands the reporting of the Inside Appalachia team to include more stories from West Virginia as well as expand coverage in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Ohio

The project establishes the Inside Appalachia Folkways Corps, which launched with 10 specialized freelance reporters from four Appalachian states.

The initiative also will include developing ongoing partnerships with folklife organizations and artisans across the region, as well as expanding WVPB’s educational components surrounding Appalachian folk life and culture, providing a tool kit for educators to incorporate "Inside Appalachia" into classrooms everywhere.

Keep scrolling to see the the Folkways stories and podcast episodes.

Ben McManus

As part of our Inside Appalachia folkways project, we have been exploring Appalachia’s unique connection to Wales. Both regions mountainous landscapes, a history of coal extraction, folktales and it turns out, music. 

There is a growing community of musicians from both Wales and Appalachia who share an interest in the culture that binds them together.


Michael Gallimore

The West Virginia Dance Company, based out of Beckley, West Virginia, often performs dances that tell stories about social or cultural topics in the Appalachian region. One of their recent performance pieces, “Catching Light,” choreographed by Toneta Akers-Toler, was inspired by West Virginia glassmaker Ron Hinkle. In a special report exploring folkways traditions, as part of the Inside Appalachia Folkways Project, Jordan Lovejoy profiled the choreographer and her work. 


Emily Hilliard / West Virginia Folklife Program

An old-time musician from Clay County has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts’ fellowship -- the first West Virginian in 20 years to receive the honor.

John Morris has been named one of nine NEA National Heritage Fellows. According to a press release, it is the highest honor in the United States for folk and traditional arts. 

Betty Maney holds a small double weave river cane basket
Rachel Greene

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been making baskets for centuries. While it is an old artform, basket makers are resilient -- adapting to changes not only in their craft, but their traditions too. 

Peter Stevenson

Before the pandemic hit, our Inside Appalachia team was planning a reporting trip to Wales as part of our ongoing folkways project, as the country has a strong historical connection to Appalachia that we wanted to explore. The trip’s been postponed, but in a special report as part of the Inside Appalachia Folkways Project, Caitlin Tan interviewed two Welsh storytellers who through their craft bring us artistic parallels between our region’s sister country.


Music Comes Naturally To Son Of Hammons Legends

May 15, 2020
Trevor Hammons
Carl Fleischhauer & Lawrence Camerson

The Hammons Family of Pocahontas County, West Virginia are known around the world for their distinctive old-time music that reflects the early Appalachian frontier of West Virginia.  Nine members of the Hammons clan, Edden, Pete, Maggie, Sherman, Burl, Lee, Currence, Mintie and Dona will be inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame this year. That ceremony has been rescheduled to November. 

Nicole Musgrave

Girls Rock Whitesburg in Whitesburg, Kentucky is a music camp for female, gender-fluid, non-binary, and trans youth. Over the course of a week campers learn an electric instrument, form a band and write songs. At the end, they perform in front of a live audience. While the camp focuses on electric music instruction, participants also learn how music is tied to social justice.


Deep Mountain Farm

Just outside Fayetteville, West Virginia, there's a 42-acre farm that has just about everything -- chickens, lambs, sheep, produce and dogs. The latest addition is a litter of Great Pyrenees puppies, who will become guardian dogs for the sheep.

Christine Weirick owns and operates Deep Mountain Farm with her husband Chris Jackson and their two young daughters. 


CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Despite social distancing limitations that meant reimagining an in-person training for the Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Corps Project, 12 storytellers are now off and running (from a safe distance, of course) to gather and share unique stories of arts and culture from across the Appalachian region.

Debra Williby-Walker

When Brady Walker first learned that some people go hungry, without a meal, he was four years old. And unlike most kids his age, he decided to take action.

Brady lives in Mercer County, W.Va., but he had a family friend named Ursula Candasamy, who has since passed away, in South Africa. So Brady began by collecting produce seed packets — some donated, some with his own savings — and he sent 910 packets to Ursula who distributed them to those in need. 

Brady, who is now eight years old, said he is motivated to keep sending seeds because, “people won’t be hungry, and I’m helping other people, and I like helping people.”

Amy Knicely

As the number of coronavirus cases have quickly grown across the nation, including in West Virginia, leaving the house has become increasingly discouraged. In fact, the White House Coronavirus Task Force recently recommended to either not go or limit trips to the grocery store to avoid large gatherings. 

And even when people do go to the store the shelves are often sparse. Although the National Grocers Association assures there’s not a food shortage in the country, some people are preparing just in case. 


Caitlin Tan

In March, West Virginia saw 90,000 unemployment claims. In a typical month the state averages 5,000. According to the U.S. Labor Department, one of the industries hit the hardest nationwide is arts and entertainment — a sector that depends heavily on social events, something that is nearly impossible during the coronavirus pandemic.

We recently spoke with West Virginian artists to see how they are coping, and we wanted to check in with the Tamarack Foundation For The Arts, which directly supports nearly 2,000 artists in the state. They have recently promoted their interactive newsletter to help West Virginian artists still feel a sense of community.

Susan Brown and Jenny Bardwell

Kerri Namolik lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va. with her husband and two daughters. She is an assistant professor for Blue Ridge Community and Technical College and is working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

But like many parents, she has also found herself homeschooling her two girls – Scarlett and Lilah – and using baking as a way to implement some math.


Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For the past two years, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia team has been working on a folkways project that focuses on artisans and craftsmen within Appalachia.

For many of these people, their art or craft is their primary income, and a lot of them depend on social events, like concerts, farmers markets and craft fairs. In this new world of coronavirus and social distancing, that is proving difficult.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

For the past few months, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia Folkways Project has cultivated a connection between two groups of people thousands of miles away — high schools in Lincoln County, West Virginia and in Merthyr Tydfill, Wales.


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