W.I. “Bill” Hairston, 71, is a storyteller, old-time musician, and pastor living in Charleston, West Virginia. He was born in Phenix City, Alabama, and his family moved to Saint Albans, West Virginia, in 1960.
Doris A. Fields, aka Lady D, known as “West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul” is an R&B, soul, and blues musician and songwriter living in Beckley. She is the founder and organizer of West Virginia’s Simply Jazz and Blues Festival and previously hosted the weekly Simply Jazz and Blues radio show on Groovy94 in Beckley. In 2008, Fields’ original song “Go Higher” won an online contest sponsored by the Obama Music Arts and Entertainment Group. She performed the song as a headliner at the Obama for Change Inauguration Ball with President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance.
Carol Dougherty is an elder in Wheeling’s Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Church. She was born in Wheeling, WV in 1938 and was raised by her grandparents, who were immigrants from Lebanon. She is a traditional Lebanese home cook, a member of Our Lady of Lebanon Women’s Society, and will be teaching a folk dance and dubke class for children at Our Lady of Lebanon’s 84th annual Mahrajan Festival in August 2017.
Sam Rizzetta is a dulcimer designer, builder, and musician who moved to West Virginia in the early 1970s. He was a member of the string band Trapezoid and founded the hammer dulcimer playing classes at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College. He has built dulcimers for musicians including John McCutcheon, Guy Carawan, and Sam Herrmann (read our Field Notes with her). Rizzetta now collaborates with the Dusty Strings Company who build hammer dulcimers based on his designs. He lives with his wife Carrie Rizzetta in Berkeley County, WV.
Cora Hairston is a musician and writer from Logan County, West Virginia. Hairston is the author of two novels, Faces Behind the Dust and Hello World Here Comes Claraby Rose, both fictionalized accounts based on her childhood growing up in a black coal camp. Here are some excerpts from our interview.
Tom Zielinsky is an accordionist and member of Weirton, West Virginia’s Sacred Heart of Mary Polish Parish. Zielinksy was born in Steubenville, Ohio and raised in New Cumberland, West Virginia, where he attended a one-room Polish Catholic church. He plays regularly at the Sacred Heart of Mary Polish Festival, their bi-annual polka mass, and other…
On July 19, we visited traditional musicians Sam and Joe Herrmann at their home in Hampshire County, WV. Both born in Maryland, the Herrmanns moved to West Virginia in the 1970s, seeking to build a life outside the city. They soon discovered old-time music on a trip to the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention and have since…