Mary Greene has continued to celebrate and present the traditions of her Appalachian community even while she pursued her educational goals at Appalachian State University. She grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Boone, North Carolina, the daughter of a hard-working farmer and a schoolteacher. Her parents instilled in her the deep love of community and tradition, and the sense of place that informs her programs.
Her early musical experiences, provided by her hymn singing father and the local shape-note singing school leader, were in the religious music tradition. Later, she learned traditional ballads and folk songs (restoring a broken link to her ballad singing grandparents). Mary’s years of academic study of Appalachian music and culture culminated in a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies. Her expertise in the region’s cultural arts coupled with experience as the director of educational services at the award-winning Appalachian Cultural Museum, at Appalachian State University, equip her with multiple views of Appalachian culture.
The sparkle in Mary’s eye, her thoughtful comments and stories, and a voice full of the richness and warmth of the Appalachians combine in her musical programs. Mary has presented folklore and music traditions at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife and has also taught and performed for more than a decade at the Appalachian State University’s Dulcimer Playing Workshop. She has also provided educational sessions for groups such as the National Association of Music Librarians and the National Eastern Parks and Monuments Association. With funding from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, in 1994, she produced a documentary recording on North Carolina Heritage Award winner Ora Watson, a traditional fiddler and singer. She completed her own recording, The Unclouded Day, in 1996. She produced and directed a documentary film titled Blue Ridge Shape Notes: Singing a New Song in an Old Way in 2004. Nearly two hundred regional shape-note singers participated in the production of this film.
Her interest in traditional culture also includes crafts. In the early 1990s she conducted research documenting traditional basket makers in western North Carolina. She curated an exhibit on these basketmakers in 2005 at the Appalachian Cultural Museum.
Mary has coordinated, and performed at, numerous festivals, events, and concerts presenting regional traditions to schoolchildren, adults, newcomers and tourists. She also taught a course in Appalachian Music at Appalachian State University and has conducted dulcimer playing and traditional arts residencies in the public schools. She teaches music in Ashe County Public Schools.
Mary Greene is available for lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and performances as her time allows.