Mtn. Talk: Sheila Kay Adams & Bobby McMillon
A seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and claw-hammer banjo player, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina, an area renowned for its unbroken tradition of of unaccompanied singing of traditional southern Appalachian ballads that dates back to the early Scots/Irish and English Settlers in the mid-17th century.
Bobby McMillon, was heir to numerous strands of Appalachian culture. From his father’s family in Cocke County, Tennessee, he learned Primitive Baptist hymns and traditional stories and ballads. From his mother’s people in Yancy and Mitchell Counties, North Carolina, he heard “booger tales, haint tales,” and legends about the murder of a relative named Charlie Silver. In Caldwell County, he went to school with relatives of Tom Dula, learned their family stories, and heard ballads, gospel songs, and Carter family recordings.
Sheila and Bobby are both masters of the traditions they learned from their family and community members in western North Carolina, and the audio you’ll hear in this episode features their performance at the Hindman Settlement School on April 4, 2019 as the finale of their Seeds and Stories gathering.