William Harrison ‘‘Bill’’ Withers Jr. (July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020) was born into a miner’s family of 13 children in Slab Fork, Raleigh County, West Virginia. His mother moved the family to Beckley when Withers was 3, but he continued to spend weekends in Slab Fork. By the time he was 15, Withers…
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.
On January 25, we hosted our second West Virginia Folklife Program concert at the West Virginia Humanities Council, with a performance by old-time musician and collector Jim Costa, and a presentation by folklorist Zoe van Buren, who worked with Costa to document his collection.
State folklorist Emily Hilliard visits turkey call maker Aaron Parsons of Jackson County in her regular column for Goldenseal Magazine.
At 87, James Shaffer of Charleston Broom & Mop Co. in Loudendale is the last handmade commercial broom maker in West Virginia. We worked with West Virginia Public Broadcasting to produce a radio & video mini-documentary about Shaffer and the changes he’s seen in his 70 years in the broom industry.
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.
Summary of programs, fieldwork, and other activities of the West Virginia Folklife Program in fiscal year 2016
A tribute to pioneering folklorist, scholar, and fiddler Alan Jabbour (1942-2017), from West Virginia Humanities Council Executive Director Ken Sullivan
Please join us at the historic MacFarland-Hubbard House, West Virginia Humanities Council headquarters in Charleston on January 25 from 5:30-7:30 for a concert by West Virginia old-time musician and collector Jim Costa, with a presentation by folklorist Zoe van Buren.
On September 8, 2016 we hosted our first West Virginia Folklife Program concert on the patio of the West Virginia Humanities Council, with a performance by 89 year-old Gilmer County ballad singer Phyllis Marks.
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…