National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow, Sheila Kay Adams, to perform in her hometown on Saturday, January 18th, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15 and the show will be held at the Madison County Arts Center in Marshall, NC.
A seventh generation ballad singer, storyteller and musician, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, an area renowned for its unbroken traditions of unaccompanied ballad singing that dates back to the early Scots-Irish and English settlers in the mid-17th century.
Adams learned to sing from her great-aunt Dellie Chandler Norton and other notable singers in the community such as, Dillard Chandler and the Wallin Family (including NEA National Heritage Fellow Doug Wallin). In addition to ballad singing, Adams is an accomplished clawhammer style banjo player and storyteller.
“This Saturday evening show will give us a chance here in Madison County to celebrate Sheila Kay’s many accomplishments,” remarked Laura Boosinger, Executive Director of The Madison County Arts Council. “Sheila Kay tells stories about her home here in the mountains. Her performances are full of humor and passion for this region. Her award from the NEA is well-deserved and we want to show our appreciation for her dedication to preserving our mountain heritage.”
She began performing in public in her teens and, throughout her career she has performed at festivals, events, music camps, and workshops around this country and the United Kingdom. Other performances include the acclaimed International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee as well as the 1976 and 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival as part of The Bicentennial Celebration and Appalachia: Heritage and Harmony.
Adams is the author of two books: Come Home With Me, a collection of stories published by the University of North Carolina Press and a 1997 winner of the North Carolina Historical Society’s award for historical fiction. My Own True Love, a novel, was published by Alonquin Books in 2004.
Adams’ devotion to preserving and perpetuating her heritage earned her the North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award in recognition of her valuable contributions to the study of North Carolina Folklore. In a letter supporting her nomination as a NEA Heritage Fellow, George Holt, director of performing arts and film at the North Carolina Museum of Art wrote, “Sheila Kay Adams is the key figure in carrying forward to this day the tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing that has enriched her community for more than two centuries. promoting its beauty throughout our country and beyond, and insuring that it will be perpetuated by younger generations of singers well into the 21st century.”