Creating this playlist wasn’t easy, even for Joe Newberry. Where do you begin to encapsulate the rich musical tradition that echos across the Appalachian Mountains? These aren’t radio hits – these gritty, melodic songs have been shared like sweet tea on front porch steps for centuries and passed down like fine china for generations. See Joe Newberry’s list and song descriptions below for a small sample of Appalachian tunes that have moved and inspired him throughout the years.

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  1. Tom Dula: Recorded by many folks. I love Doc Watson’s singing of this song, but my favorite version is by Laura Boosinger, who lives near Asheville.
  2. Omie Wise: From the unforgettable singing of the Wallin family of Madison County.
  3. Come All Ye Fair & Tender Ladies: National Heritage Fellowship winner Sheila Kay Adams of Madison County sings this beautifully.
  4. Say Darlin’ Say: This old-time version of “Hush Little Baby” has been recorded often, for good reason.
  5. My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains: This is one of the most well-loved songs in old-time music. My favorite version is from the Carter Family.
  6. Lone Pilgrim: Of all the amazing cuts on the “The Watson Family of Deep Gap, N.C.” LP, this beautiful hymn stands out.
  7. Groundhog: There is not a single version of “Groundhog” that I don’t like. But you can’t beat Frank Proffitt’s singing and playing on it.
  8. Little Satchel: One of the sweetest love songs ever, from clawhammer banjo master Fred Cockerham.
  9. Sweet Sunny South: Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers recorded this song of loss and longing in 1929. Poole was from Spray, N.C., which is now known as Eden.
  10. Swannanoa Tunnel: Check out the version from Mountain Dance and Folk Festival founder, Bascom Lamar Lunsford. There is a reason why they called him the “Minstrel of Appalachia.”

photo: Rochelle Moser

photo: Rochelle Moser

Joe Newberry has been playing banjo since his childhood in Missouri, but his career bloomed in North Carolina as both an award-winning bluegrass songwriter and a semi-regular performer on Garrison Keller’s “A Prarie Home Companion.”

Read an exclusive piece on Joe Newberry by clicking here.
Watch Joe perform in the Our State library by clicking here.

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Erin Reitz is a former digital content specialist at Our State.