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Music from Georgia

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Saturday 27 February 2010

Musician and writer Banning Eyre heads to the American state of Georgia, gateway to the Deep South, and southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, to record some of the unique vocal music that has been preserved in the area, and meet the personalities who have kept the traditions alive.

He meets 92 year old blind gospel legend Sister Fleeta Mitchell, who still sings and plays the piano alongside her musical companion the Revd Willie Mae Eberhardt, herself in her late 70s. Together they recall disturbing tales of life in the south, and the songs that gave people hope.

Banning drops in to the converted chicken shack that is home to Phil Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, to hear them in their weekly session. Phil is the grandson of chicken farmer Gid Tanner who in 1924, with the original Skillet Lickers, became the first southern rural artist to record for the Columbia record label, and whose blend of music and comedy sold millions.

The Myers Family and Friends, a singing family of guitar playing ladies, recall the songs they sang as children for corn shuckings and bean stringings, and local artist and folk song collector Art Rosenbaum talks about the unique character of North Georgia, and picks a tune on one of his many banjos.

As well as the banjos and the ballads, Banning also attends the 141st Annual Alpharetta June Singing, and discovers that the 19th Century tradition of congregational 'shape note' singing still lives on in the south.

Music and featured items

21 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Bonnie and Mary

    Banning Eyre meets sisters Bonnie and Mary who tell of a life singing traditional songs.

  • Music Played

  • Mary Lomax

    Mary Lomax tells Banning how she only started singing in public after she was 80.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Mary Lomax
      00:07

      Mary Lomax The Wayfaring Stranger

      June 2009

  • Music of North Georgia

    Art Rosenbaum explains the uniqueness of music in North Georgia.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Art Rosenbaum
      00:16

      Art Rosenbaum Shout, Lulu

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

  • The Myers family

    The Myers family explain how they continue the 200 year old family music tradition.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Ed Teague
      00:19

      Ed Teague Cumberland Gap

      Ed Teague (Banjo)

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

    • Image for The Myers Family and Friends
      00:20

      The Myers Family and Friends On the Sunnyside of the Mountain

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

    • Image for The Myers Family and Friends
      00:25

      The Myers Family and Friends Where the Mountain Laurels Grow

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

  • Sister Fleeta

    Banning meets 96 year old blind Gospel legend Sister Fleeta.

  • Music Played

    • Image for Sister Fleeta Mitchell
      00:29

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell He is Mine

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell (voice, piano) Revd Willie Mae Everhardt (voice, tambourine)

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

    • Image for Sister Fleeta Mitchell
      00:33

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell O let me fly

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell (voice, piano) Revd Willie Mae Everhardt (voice, tambourine)

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

    • Image for Sister Fleeta Mitchell
      00:37

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell Amazing Grace

      Sister Fleeta Mitchell (voice, piano) Revd Willie Mae Everhardt (voice, tambourine)

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

  • Phil Tanner

    Phil tells how his family started this tradition. and explains about ‘Skillet Lickers’.

  • Music Played

  • Shape Note Singing

    Banning discusses Shape Note Singing, a 19th century based sacred music.

  • Music Played

    • Image for The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse
      00:54

      The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse Sacred Harp No.47, Idumea

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

    • Image for The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse
      00:56

      The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse Sacred Harp No.45, New Britain

      BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009

  • Dolls

    Dolls

  • Fish

    Fish

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