Sisters Joan and Irene Moser follow in the footsteps of Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and of their father, Artus Moser, in being scholars as well as artists in the traditions of their native North Carolina mountains. The Moser family is distinguished in the fields of Appalachian studies and folklore for their two generations’ collection of and scholarship in mountain traditions, particularly music, storytelling and plant lore, and as long-time educators in these fields. Like Lunsford, however, the Mosers’ knowledge comes not only from formal education, but from their own family’s extensive roots in the mountains. Their paternal grandmother was a mountain-born farmer, singer, and healer, and their grandfather was from the foothills, but, like so many young men in the late nineteenth century, followed his railroad job into the high country. Joan and Irene were raised in Swannanoa.
“The children grew up knowing many of the traditional musicians and folklorists in the region,” write Beverly and Dan Patterson in their introduction of the Mosers at the 2006 North Carolina Folklore Society Awards. Lunsford, Marcus Martin and Byard Ray were family friends. Like their father, Irene and Joan grew up to be old-time musicians.
They also followed the examples of their father and mother, Mabel, in becoming dedicated teachers. Joan founded Warren Wilson’s Appalachian Studies Program in 1977, and taught there for many years. Irene, in her academic life as a librarian and teacher, has lent her expertise to multiple universities in North Carolina and West Virginia, returning to Swannanoa in her retirement to teach folklore classes at Warren Wilson and Western Carolina University. The sisters have published widely on subjects having to do with mountain folklore, and have long been active figures in the field of Appalachian Studies.
With their brother, Artus, Jr. and nephews Mark and Artus III, Joan and Irene are members of the old-time Buckeye Band of Swannanoa, named for their family’s home in Buckeye Cove. In 2006, the North Carolina Folklore Society presented Joan and Irene Moser with the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award, of which their father was the recipient in 1972.
Irene Moser is available for lectures, demonstrations, and workshops. Joan Moser is available for demonstrations and workshops, and asks that the sponsoring party arrange for transportation. The Buckeye Band of Swannanoa is available for performances on a limited basis.