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Banning Eyre visits the state of Georgia to record some of the unique vocal music that has been preserved there and meet the personalities who have kept the traditions alive.

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.

Available now

1 hour

Last on

Sat 18 Sep 2010 15:00

Music and featured items

  • Bonnie and Mary

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

    Duration: 06:18

  • Music Played

    • Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers

      "A Corn Liquor Still in Georgia" (Excerpt)

      • Private recording.
    • Mary Lomax

      The Drowsy Sleeper

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.
  • Mary Lomax

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

    Duration: 04:23

  • Music Played

    • Mary Lomax

      The Wayfaring Stranger

      • June 2009.
  • Music of North Georgia

    Art Rosenbaum explains the uniqueness of music in North Georgia.

    Duration: 07:59

  • Music Played

    • 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.

    Duration: 10:10

  • Music Played

    • Ed Teague

      Cumberland Gap

      Ed Teague (Banjo)

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.
    • The Myers Family and Friends

      On the Sunnyside of the Mountain

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.
    • 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.

    Duration: 10:54

  • Music Played

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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’.

    Duration: 08:53

  • Music Played

    • Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers

      "A Corn Liquor Still in Georgia" (Excerpts)

      • Private recording.
    • Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers

      The Arkansas Traveller

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.
  • Shape Note Singing

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

    Duration: 10:27

  • Music Played

    • The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse

      Sacred Harp No.47, Idumea

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.
    • The 141st Alpharetta June Singing, Alpharetta Courthouse

      Sacred Harp No.45, New Britain

      • BBC recording from North Georgia, USA: June 2009.

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