Singers Lee Wallin (1889 – 1973) and his wife Berzilla Chandler Wallin (1892 – 1986) were members of a family of renowned ballad singers in Madison County, North Carolina. They were highly accomplished singers in the old “love song” tradition of the Big Laurel area.
In an interview with music collector John Cohen, Berzilla Wallin said, “…I see the old time all a-dying away, which makes me sad. I’d like to see them go on, and the young rising generation pick them up so they wouldn’t die out.” Lee Wallin told Cohen, “The old songs has mighty good meaning to them . . . that makes me think back to when I was a young man, away back again when I had such good times, but they passed by and gone, and I like to hear them and remember things gone by.” Lee and Berzilla played an important role in keeping the music of their community alive for future generations.
Doug Wallin and Jack Wallin, two of their twelve children, were recorded by Wayne Martin for an album, Family Songs and Stories from the North Carolina Mountains, in 1995. Lee Wallin’s brother Cas, and Berzilla’s brother Lloyd Chandler and cousin Dillard Chandler, all celebrated ballad singers as well, were recorded, along with Lee and Berzilla, by John Cohen in the 1960s.