West Virginia Music and Dance

West Virginia Studies

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WV Music Dance

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     1 – “The West Virginia Hills” – An Official WV State Song

Words by: Ellen Ruddell King
Music and Chorus by: Henry Everett Engle

Oh, the West Virginia hills! How majestic and how grand,
With their summits bathed in glory, Like our Prince Immanuel’s Land!
Is it any wonder then, That my heart with rapture thrills,
As I stand once more with loved ones On those West Virginia hills?


Oh, the hills, beautiful hills, How I love those West Virginia hills!
If o’er sea o’er land I roam, Still I’ll think of happy home,
And my friends among the West Virginia hills.

Oh, the West Virginia hills! Where my childhood hours were passed,
Where I often wandered lonely, And the future tried to cast;
Many are our visions bright, Which the future ne’er fulfills;
But how sunny were my daydreams On those West Virginia hills!


Oh, the West Virginia hills! How unchang’d they seem to stand,
With their summits pointed skyward To the Great Almighty’s Land!
Many changes I can see, Which my heart with sadness fills;
But no changes can be noticed In those West Virginia hills.


Oh, the West Virginia hills! I must bid you now adieu.
In my home beyond the mountains I shall ever dream of you;
In the evening time of life, If my Father only wills,
I shall still behold the vision Of those West Virginia hills.


Oh, the hills, beautiful hills, How I love those West Virginia hills!
If o’er sea o’er land I roam, Still I’ll think of happy home,
And my friends among the West Virginia hills.

West-Virginia-Hills song sheet music

         “The West Virginia Hills” – WV 4-H Songs

[Includes on-screen lyrics]   (2:25/2014/ WV 4-H Songs)

        “The West Virginia Hills” – on the Mountain Dulcimer

(1:47/2013/ Jim Fawcett)

     2 – “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” – An Official WV State Song

Words and music by: Col. Julian G. Hearne, Jr.


West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home.

My heart beats with lasting love for you,
Where my roots are so deep, Where my fore-father’s sleep,
Where kin-folks and friends are staunch and true;
Where the Blue of the North
And the Grey of the South
Long have blended in perfect harmony,
Where the East meets the West,
And derives from each the best,
That’s West Virginia home sweet home for me.


Where mountains and hills and valleys too
And the orchards, the farms,
Timberlands, all have charms
And fact’ries and mines are on view;
There I work, and I play,
And I worship Sunday,
in that land where the mountaineers are free,
Other States are OK,
It’s a grand old USA,
But West Virginia’s home sweet home for me.


         “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home” – Performed by William Matheny

West Virginia Music Official state songs WEST VIRGINIA STATE SYMBOLS OFFICIAL“For more than a decade,  William Matheny has been a singular presence in West Virginia music. After learning guitar from his bluegrass performing father, Matheny quickly established himself as a trusted side person for some of the region’s most beloved and influential musicians – including Mark Poole, Brian Porterfield and Todd Burge – where he lent his talents on guitar, drums, bass, banjo, mandolin, lap steel, and occasionally, charisma. All the while, he continued to build his own catalog of original tunes, assembled a band and released his first proper solo album, “Born of Frustration.”   – Josh Saul, web producer, NPR’s Mountain Stage”

Explore “William Matheny” Website

(Audio Only – This is likely the first (and only) recording of this song.  Recorded exclusively for MH3WV.org) (1:55/2014/MH3WV)

     3 – “This Is My West Virginia” – An Official WV State Song

 Words and music by: Iris Bell

This is my West Virginia,
the home of all my family,
And the faces of her people
ever glow with loyalty;
The honest sweat born of honest toil
is the only way they know
Here in my West Virginia,
the home that I love so.

This is my West Virginia,
her beauty makes my spirit whole,
In the times of dread and anguish
it calms my fevered soul;
I lift mine eyes unto these hills
and they give me power to go on
Here in my West Virginia,
where I was born.

This is my West Virginia,
and free her sons will always be
We will stand behind our principles as in 1863
Her pride will live and her strength will grow
‘Til her mountains turn to dust;
This is my West Virginia, the land I trust.

This is my West Virginia,
these hills that guard my liberty
And her flag proclaims the legend
“Mountaineers are always free.”
Where-e’re I go she will call to me
through the world in which I roam
This is my West Virginia, my land, my home.


         “This is My West Virginia” – Iris Bell

“‘This is My West Virginia’ was written by Iris Bell in 1961, when she awoke in the middle of the night with the music and lyrics running through her head. She quickly found pencil and paper and wrote down the song, which became the Centennial Song in 1962, and the following year was adopted as the third State Song of West Virginia. Iris believed in the beauty and nobility of our state and its people, and her passion for her home state comes through in the heartfelt lyrics and rousing march accompaniment. Iris Bell on piano and vocals, Butch Miles on drums, Derek Pierson on bass.”        (3:16/2011/ April Pierson-Keating)

     4 – “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – An Official WV State Song

       John Denver, Bill Danoff & Taffy Nivert (co-writers)     (3:23/2008/4642 977)

       “Did W.Va. Inspire ‘Country Roads’? 50 Years Later, Here’s What We Know” – Inside Appalachia – WV Public Broadcasting

September 17, 2020 

WEST VIRGINIA STATE SONGS“One night in 1970, Bill Danoff and his then-girlfriend Taffy Nivert were hanging out with John Denver, and they played a few verses from a song they’d been working on. Denver immediately said he wanted to record it.

“It was sort of like an old movie,” Danoff recalled in a 2010 interview with the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. “You know, ‘why don’t we all do it together?’ And I said, ‘okay, well, we got to finish it.’ He said, ‘well, let’s finish it.’”

“The three of them — Danoff, Nivert and Denver — stayed up all night finishing the song. Knowing little about the state, Nivert pulled out an encyclopedia and looked up West Virginia. . .

Explore WV Public Broadcasting’s “Did W.Va. Inspire ‘Country Roads’? 50 Years Later, Here’s What We Know” Website to continue reading

       “Far out: “Country Roads” turns 50”

  April 11, 2021

WV music history“Any ex-pat West Virginian who has ever punched up “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on the jukebox . . .”

Explore The [Morgantown] Dominion-Post’s “Far out: “Country Roads” turns 50″ article to continue reading

       “Country Roads: The Legislature Today”

“Sen. Bill Cole stands to urge support of making “(Take Me Home), Country Roads” by John Denver an official state song. Dreama Denver, the wife of Bob Denver (of ‘Gilligan’s Island’–no relation to John Denver), started the campaign to make it an official state song and looks on as the Senate passes her resolution.”   (1:06/2014/ WV Public Broadcasting)

“My Home Among the Hills”

Words and music by: E.W. James, Jr.

There’s a land of rolling mountains
Where the sky is blue above.
And though I may roam, I hurry home,
To those friendly hills I love.

Where moonlit meadows ring with the call of whippoorwills
Always you will find me in my home among the hills
And where the sun draws rainbows in the mist
Of waterfalls and mountain rills

My heart will be always in the West Virginia Hills
There, autumn hillsides are bright with scarlet trees
and in the spring, the robins sing
While apple blossoms whisper in the breeze

And there is music in the flashing streams
and joy in fields of daffodils
Laughter through the happy valleys
of my home among the hills

     “My Home Among the Hills – Accompanied  by Photographs of West Virginia”

” ‘My Home Among the Hills’, West Virginia’s unofficial State song (music and words by E.W. James Jr., a trustee of West Virginia Wesleyan College). The song is accompanied by a slide show of photographs of West Virginia.”   (2:40/2010/WestVirginiaHome)

     “My Home Among the Hills” – WV 4-H Songs

[Includes on-screen lyrics]  (2:42/2014/ WV 4-H Songs)

     “My Home Among the Hills” – Instrumental – WVU Band

(2:30/2013/Whitney Godwin)

“The 55 Counties Song”

We’re proud of West Virginia
the home of the Mountaineers
the child of the Civil War
born during stormy years

In 1863 Abe Lincoln gave the call
and 55 counties lead the way
let’s salute them one by one

There’s Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton,
Brooke, and Cabell too

Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge,
Fayette, Gilmer, Grant,

Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock,
Hardy, Harrison,

Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha,
Lewis, Lincoln,

Logan, Marion, Marshall,
Mason, and Mercer,

Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia,
Monroe, and Morgan,

McDowell, Nicholas, Ohio

Pleasants, Pocahontas,
Preston, Putnam,

Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie,
Roane, and Summers too,

Taylor, Tucker, Tyler,
Upshur, and Wayne,

Webster, Wetzel, Wirt,
Wood and Wyoming

We’re proud of West Virginia
and this is why we sing

We’re proud of West Virginia
the home of the Mountaineers
A child of the Civil War
born during stormy years

In 1863 Abe Lincoln gave the call
and the 35th star was on our flag
that would soon outshine them all!

     “55 Counties of West Virginia”


“The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia”

By ‘Utah’ Phillips

The green rolling hills of West Virginia
Are the nearest thing to heaven that I know
Though the times are sad and drear
And I cannot linger here
They’ll keep me and never let me go

My daddy said, don’t ever be a miner
For a miner’s grave is all you’ll ever own
‘Cause the hard times are everywhere
I can’t find a dime to spare
These are the worst times I’ve ever known

So I’ll move away into some crowded city
In some northern factory town you’ll find me there
Though I’ll leave the past behind
I’ll never change my mind
These troubled times are more than I could bear

But someday I’ll go back to West Virginia
To the green rolling hills I love so well
Yes, someday I’ll go home
And I know I’ll right the wrong
These troubled times will follow me no more

Explore Huntington Herald-Dispatch’s ” ‘Utah’ Phillips, ‘Green Rolling Hills’ writer, dies at age 73″ news article  (pdf)

     “Utah on ‘Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia’ “

Bruce Duncan “Utah” Phillips was an American labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller and poet.   (1:24/2016 / Utah Phillips-Topic)

     “Kathy Mattea ‘Green Rolling Hills’ “

“Kathy Mattea performing “Green Rolling Hills” at Music City Roots Live From The Nashville Palace on 4.11.2018″

(3:55/2018/ Music City Roots)

     “The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia” – Emmylou Harris & Mary Black

“From Series 1 of Transatlantic Sessions. Aly Bain, Jay Ungar and Russ Barenberg amongst the musicians accompanying.”   (3:34/2009 / 1000Magicians)

“West Virginia, My Home”

By Hazel Dickens

West Virginia, oh my home
West Virginia, where I belong
In the dead of the night, in the still and the quiet
I slip away, like a bird in flight
Back to those hills, the place that I call home

It’s been years now, since I left there
And this city life’s about got the best of me
I can’t remember why I left so free
What I wanted to do, what I wanted to see
But I can sure remember where I come from

West Virginia, oh my home
West Virginia, where I belong
In the dead of the night, in the still and the quiet
I slip away, like a bird in flight
Back to those hills, the place that I call home

Well I paid the price for the leavin’
And this life I have’s not one I thought I’d find
Just let me live, love, let me cry
But when I go, just let me die
Among the friends who’ll remember when I’m gone

West Virginia, oh my home
West Virginia, where I belong
In the dead of the night, in the still and the quiet
I slip away, like a bird in flight
Back to those hills, the place that I call home

Home, home, home
Oh, I can see it so clear in my mind
Home, home, home
I can almost smell the honeysuckle vine

In the dead of the night, in the still and the quiet
I slip away, like a bird in flight
Back to those hills, the place that I call home

“Hazel Dickens became an accomplished bluegrass performer at a time when the genre was dominated by men. She was also an admired advocate for women’s and worker’s rights. Hazel was one of the most important bluegrass singers of the last fifty years and the writer of very poignant songs drawn from her personal experience. Along with fellow musician and friend Alice Gerrard, she empowered countless female singers and musicians to succeed without sacrificing integrity. In this performance, Dickens, herself the eighth of eleven children born to a West Virginia mining family, pays homage to her home state.  (Hazel Dickens passed away on April 22, 2011)”

“To read a full appreciation of Hazel Dickens from Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, visit:  http://www.folkways.si.edu/magazine/2011_spring/archive_spotlight-hazel.aspx”

“The content and comments posted here are subject to the Smithsonian Institution copyright and privacy policy (www.si.edu/copyright/). Smithsonian reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove any content at any time.

     “West Virginia, My Home” – Hazel Dickens and Phyllis Boyens – 1978

 At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival     (4:04/2011 / Smithsonian Folkways)

     “West Virginia, My Home” – Hazel Dickens and Ginny Hawker – 2008

 At the Women of Traditional Music Conference – Morehead (KY) State University  (4:44/2011 / Kim Johnson)

“West Virginia, My Home” – Kathy Mattea

An acoustic preview of the songs from Kathy Mattea’s album, Calling Me Home, on Sugar Hill Records. An acoustic preview of the songs from Kathy Mattea’s album, Calling Me Home, on Sugar Hill Records.”(4:07/2012 / Kathy Mattea)

“West Virginia – This Is My Home” – Larry Groce

“A collection of beautiful photos my dad took and compiled to “This Is My Home” by Larry Groce.”  (4:20/2008 / Twistedelf)

“Simple Gifts”

(based on the traditional Shaker hymn)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

     “Simple Gifts – the Shakers”

“A simple movie on the early American worship song ‘Simple Gifts.’  The music background was created in a live performance in Riverside, California on a Taylor 914 and Guitar Rig 2 looping software.”    (3:44/2008 / bolander619)

     “The 1978 WVU band performing ‘Simple Gifts.’ “

(1:51/2007 / WVUsax27)

     “WVU (simple gifts)”

(1:51/2022/Ann Stern)

     “WVU Marching Band Phoenix 2021”

Guaranteed Rate Bowl 2021, Pride of West Virginia Marching Band, Simple Gifts.”    (2:01/2021/Dianna Jason”

     ”Simple Gifts from ‘Blast“

(7:37/2007 / 陳宣宏)

“Mountain Stage”

mountain stagewest virginia music mountain stage “For more than 30 years, Mountain Stage has been the home of live music on public radio. Recorded in front of a live audience, Mountain Stage features performances from seasoned legends and emerging stars in genres ranging from folk and blues to indie rock, synth-pop, world music, and beyond. Produced in West Virginia and distributed by NPR, each two-hour episode of Mountain Stage can be heard every week on more than 130 stations across America, and around the world via NPR Music. . .” 

Explore “Mountain Stage” Website

“West Virginia Music Hall of Fame”

wv-music-hall-of-fame“The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting and preserving the rich and lasting contributions West Virginians have made to all genres of music. The Hall of Fame’s mission is to recognize the many important musicians who have helped shape the rich spectrum of American music from country, classical, and jazz to rock, R&B, gospel, and traditional. The WVMHoF’s mission also includes establishing a permanent facility to house the Hall of Fame and an accompanying museum to exhibit and archive recordings and memorabilia.”

Explore “West Virginia Music Hall of Fame” Website

     “West Virginia My Home. Musicians and the Mountain State Experience.” (Trailer)

“The challenge is to get young people who grow up in places like West Virginia to take the limits off of yourself – and realize that there’s no magic that somebody else has in the world that you don’t. They’re just people.” – Bill Withers

wv music and dance hall of fame“Growing up in Slab Fork in Raleigh County, Bill Withers is well aware of the importance of expanding one’s world and that, growing up in a small state, does not need to be a barrier to pursuing dreams.

“The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame’s new documentary, “West Virginia My Home: Musicians and the Mountain State Experience,” offers a fascinating look at some of the most prominent musicians to come from West Virginia, and how the “Mountain State Experience” influenced their lives and music.

wv-music-hall-of-fame“Artists including Bill Withers, Brad Paisley, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hazel Dickens, George Crumb, Kathy Mattea, Ann Magnuson, John Ellison, Everett Lilly, Charlie McCoy, and Billy Edd Wheeler, recall their experiences growing up in West Virginia, and how those values and ideals helped shape their careers. Interviewees also include Larry Groce, the late Joe Dobbs, and mega-successful WV songwriters Donnie Kees and Jeff Stevens.

“The film was produced by The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and features the talents of numerous filmmakers including Steven Schmidt, Bob Wilkerson, Jack Wright, and Evan Shaw. Charleston native Anna Sale . . .  narrates the film. The hour-long documentary was funded by The West Virginia Humanities Council, the West Virginia Legislature, and the Hamilton Family Foundation.”

(3:06/2017 / West Virginia Music Hall of Fame)

“Mountain Music Trail”

wv music dance

“Promoting and presenting the traditional music, dance, and folkways of the Allegheny Mountain region.”

“Promoting cultural tourism and sustainable economic development near the Highway 219 corridor in Monroe, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties; and sharing a cultural experience that brings together visitors and residents alike, to enjoy and participate in traditional mountain folkways.

Explore “Mountain Music Trail” Website  (website is inactive, although it appears the MMT is still in existence)

Explore VisitWV’s “Mountain Music Trail” Website

“The Mountain Dance Trail”

WV Music and Dance“The Mountain Dance Trail, a statewide heritage tourism project of the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis and Elkins College, celebrates West Virginia as the only Appalachian state which maintains a strong community dance tradition. The Dance Trail began in April of 2012 and just started it’s sixth season in January 2017!

WV MUsic and dance“The route follows a trail from the Virginia Line in the east to the Ohio River in the west, connecting communities that host old-time mountain square dances.  The towns involved are Marlinton, Dunmore, Monterey, Franklin, Elkins, Helvetia, Pickens, Ireland, Sutton, Morgantown, Weston, Glenville, and Henderson.

“These destinations all host series of scheduled dances for local dancers and visitors. Locally based musicians and callers provide music and figure calling.  Square dance styles vary throughout the state from the “Mountain Circle” or “Big Circle” dances in the east, to Appalachian four couple squares in the west. “Round Dances,” waltzes and two steps, are played between squares at most locations.”

Explore “The Mountain Dance Trail” Website


“West Virginia Public Broadcasting Music Documentaries”

     “Clifftop – the Appalachian String Band Music Festival”

wv music and dance“A documentary look at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival -aka Clifftop – where many of the participants are musicians. Each night at any given moment, there are literally a hundred jam sessions going on. The documentary also explores the evolving concepts behind Old Time. Also featured are interviews and performances of legendary West Virginia fiddler Lester McCumbers.”

Watch “Clifftop…” on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Website

     “In Tune:  A Community of Musicians”

“A celebration of old-time music and its history in the Mountain State.

“Produced by WVPB filmmaker Russ Barbour and narrated by Mountain Stage’s Larry Groce, this new documentary examines old-time music, specifically in the hills and valleys of Appalachia, especially in the Mountain State and particularly in Clay County, home to some of West Virginia’s most distinguished practitioners.

“The documentary also considers the homogenization of customs and music culture; the impact of the American Folk Revival; rediscovery of old-time musicians; the arrival of back-to-the-landers in Appalachia; growing popularity of old-time music festivals.”

Watch “In Tune: A Community of Musicians” on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Website


MAKER is a documentary profiling the craft of constructing violins as practiced by Paolo Marx, who resides in rugged, rural Pocahontas County, WV with his wife and children. Directed by FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES writer/director Robert Tinnell.”

Watch “Maker” on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Website

     “A Guitar Surgeon Gives Old Instruments Their Voices Back

“Walk through the front door of Bob Smakula’s workshop and — it’s a lot to take in.

West Virginia Music HistoryEvery flat surface is covered in clutter: chisels, screwdrivers, paint brushes, a fork, a bottle of lighter fluid. One whole wall is just wood clamps in various sizes and denominations.  But eventually you see past the jumble and begin to notice all the musical instruments, in various states of repair.  There’s a ukulele on Smakula’s workbench. It’s a Martin from the 1920s; a beautiful instrument and a real collector’s piece, but it has problems. . .”

Explore “A Guitar Surgeon Gives Old Instruments Their Voices Back​” on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Website to continue reading


WV Music“The Inside Appalachia Folkways Project expands the reporting of the Inside Appalachia team to include more stories from West Virginia as well as expand coverage in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Ohio. The project establishes the Inside Appalachia Folkways Corps, which launched with 10 specialized freelance reporters from four Appalachian states.”

“The Folkways initiative will include developing ongoing partnerships with folklife organizations and artisans across the region, as well as expanding WVPB’s educational components surrounding Appalachian folk life and culture, providing a tool kit for educators to incorporate “Inside Appalachia” into classrooms everywhere.”

Explore West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Folkways” Website – includes links to dozens of articles, videos and podcasts

Some examples of Folkways articles:

     “Folktales And Music Bring To Life The W.Va., Welsh Connection”

May 29, 2020

WV Music Dance WV Music“They called it “The World Turned Upside Down.” In the 18th and 19th century the British monarchy took over Wales and the Industrial Revolution began. Thousands of poorer farmers were displaced, left with no land or work, so they sailed West, eventually finding themselves in Appalachia. This continued to happen for hundreds of years. . .”

Explore West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “”Folktales And Music Bring To Life The W.Va., Welsh Connection” website to continue reading – includes links to more information: also some audio clips

     “Preserving The Homemade Music Of West Virginia’s Hollows”

February 21, 2021

WV History MusicWV Music“Old-time music is a large part of West Virginia’s heritage – it is the folk music of the state. And although it has now gained the popularity of people from all over the world, hundreds of years ago it was isolated within Appalachian communities. However, as it gains traction, some people think the uniqueness is lost. . .”

Explore West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Preserving the Homemade Music of West Virginia’s Hollows” website to continue reading and view video

     “At This W.Va. Steelpan Drum Company, A Visionary’s Beat Goes On”

October 22, 2021

WV Music“It takes about 40 hours of hammering to turn a steel drum into a steelpan drum.  Although originally meant to hold oil, shampoo or ketchup, the metal tube becomes an instrument uniquely capable of evoking island breezes and a slower pace of life.

“And believe it or not, this transformation takes place in an old storefront in Osage, West Virginia, population 395. This is the home of Mannette Musical Instruments, maker of world-renowned steelpan drums. . .”

Explore West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “At This W.Va. Steelpan Drum Company, A Visionary’s Beat Goes On” website to continue reading and view video

“Living in Harmony”

May 24, 2019

“There’s music in the mountains. From traditional tunes to classical symphonies, from indie rock to gospel, West Virginia’s music scene has . . .”


  • West Virginia hills are alive with the sound of music
  • Where do musicians go when they want to listen to music in WV?
  • Old-time music holds center stage at festivals

Explore scans of Daily Mail WV’s “Living in Harmony” articles to continue reading

“Folk Music of the Southern West Virginia Coalfields”

“About This National Coal Heritage Area (NCHA)-Funded Project”

west virginia history“Coal and coal-related activities are often the first things that come to mind when thinking about the history of southern West Virginia. Coal played such a part in the history of the area that the counties of Logan, Mingo, Lincoln, Boone, Wyoming, McDowell, Wayne, Fayette, Mercer, Cabell, Nicholas, Summers, and Kanawha are often simply referred to as the southern WV coalfields–as if nothing else ever occurred there.  The focus of this undertaking is to shine a light on the individuals who contributed to the rich folk music traditions of those “coalfield counties. While the songs and tunes themselves are . . “

Explore Chris Haddix’s “Folk Music of the Southern West Virginia Coalfields” Website – clicking on the names on the right gives much more information on that musician

“Songs & Stories of Scott’s Run Project”

“The Scotts Run area of Monongalia County has been highlighted in a variety of ways over the past 8 decades. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the area as part of her education on poverty in Appalachia. Moved by what she saw, she formulated plans for what came to be the New Deal Community of Arthurdale. Federal photographers documented the area, while scholars and historians published paper after paper on the area. In 2015 I was invited to attend a meeting at the Scotts Run Museum. . . “

Explore Chris Haddix’s “Songs and Stories of the Scott’s Run Project” Website

west virginia music and dance“I am an Associate Professor in the WVU School of Design and Community Development. My courses cover many aspects of sustainable approaches to the built environment. . . Another area centers on my love of music and musical traditions in Appalachia. I have developed, implemented, and written about a simple methodology for teaching community stakeholders how to create song lyrics from their individual and shared community experience.” – Chris Haddix

“Save the Music Foundation”

WV Music Dance“More than five million American public school kids don’t have access to music education.”

West Virginia Music State Songs“Our mission is to help students, schools, and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. As one of the leading music foundations in the United States, we support our partner communities in three ways:

  • We donate instruments and music technology
  • We provide support services for teachers
  • We advocate for music education

(Dozens of schools in West Virginia have benefited from the Save the Music Foundation)

Explore “Save the Music Foundation” Website

“West Virginia Dance Festival”

These videos demonstrate various dancing styles, recorded in the lobby of the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston.

“Square Dancing”  –  (0:27/2015/WV Museum Education)

“European Folk Dance”  —  (1:29/2015 / WV Museum Education)

“Greek Dance”  —  (1:01/2015 / WV Museum Education)

“Scottish Dance”  —  (1:37/2015 / WV Museum Education)

“Flat Footing”  —  (0:33/2015 / WV Museum Education)

“Clogging”  —  (1:51/2015/ WV Museum Education)

 “Vandalia Gathering”

“Music · Dancing · Stories · Crafts · Food · Fun — Plus Old-Time Activities for Young’uns and FREE Admission”

West Virginia Arts Culture Historywv music dance“The Vandalia Gathering brings together the finest traditional Appalachian musicians for a weekend of great picking. Elder statesmen and young upstarts perform on stage, compete in contests and play in impromptu jam sessions all over the Capitol Complex. Visitors to the Gathering can enjoy fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar contests outside during the day, and concerts in the State Theater in the evenings. Keep your ears open!

“From mountain flatfooting to Celtic dancing, the Vandalia Gathering brings to life the international heritage of West Virginia dance. . .”

Explore West Virginia Dept. of Arts Culture and History’s annual “Vandalia Gathering”  website– includes links to:  Photo Galleries, Contest Winners, and Liars Galleries from 2001 to present  wv music dance



“Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College”

“A Center of Excellence, Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College offers ten week-long programs featuring instruction in many traditions of music, dance, craft, and folklore. Concerts, dances, a festival, and other heritage arts events are also part of the Augusta experience. Visit us on the wooded, historic campus of Davis & Elkins College located in the scenic mountain town of Elkins, West Virginia.”

“Music & Dance Theme Weeks:  Each summer Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College offers music and dance classes from many traditions in the form of theme weeks: Cajun/Creole Week, Early Country Music Week, Blues & Swing Week, Bluegrass Week, Old-Time Week, Vocal Week. Each theme week is offered concurrently with Craft, Arts, & Folklore classes.”

Explore “Augusta Heritage Center” Website

     “Irish/Celtic Week At Augusta Heritage Center”

“Founded in 1982 by Dr. Mick Moloney, the Augusta Heritage Center’s Irish/Celtic Week is the oldest week of its kind in the United States. For 31 years, Augusta has consistently attracted the world’s finest instructors to immerse students in the very best of Irish craft, folklore, music and dance.  Students choose two subjects and meet for intensive classes each morning and afternoon. Evening activities include sessions, Ceili and set dances in our beautiful open-air dance pavilion, and world-class concerts. Students are invited to sign up for an optional evening mini-course. Anyone with a passion for traditional Irish culture will find this week a delightful and engrossing experience!”   (Many West Virginians Have a Scotch/Irish/Celtic Heritage)    (3:28/2013 / Davis & Elkins College)

     “Old Time Dance Party at Augusta Heritage Center” – Elkins

“Flatfoot dancing on the Halliehurst Porch at Davis and Elkins College (WV) in August 2008.”   (5:54/2008 / Wilmer Kerns)

     “Clogging Duet to Ragtime Annie” – Davis and Elkins Dance Collective

“This performance took place August 4, 2011 during Bluegrass Week at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV.   Dancers: Susan Krakoff and Matthew Kupstas;  Choreography: Matthew Kupstas;  Tune: Ragtime Annie; Musicians: Byron Berline (Fiddle), Jim Mills (Banjo), Tyler Grant (Guitar), Jesse Brock (Mandolin), and Mike Fleming (Bass)”   (3:28/2011 / Davis & Elkins College)

“Mountain Traditions Project”

“Stories of Appalachian traditions in our rapidly changing world.” West Virginia Music“From the mountains of Western Maryland and West Virginia comes a series of short films about Appalachian traditions in our changing world.” “Shot over several months in the summer of 2011, the films follow the stories of a mountain dulcimer player, a metalworker, a quilter, a hammer dulcimer maker, a group of homesteaders and a group of kayakers. The music for the films was composed and performed by Appalachian musicians. The Mountain Traditions Project is a collaboration between Appalachian Independent Newspaper, Mountain City Traditional Arts and Interdependent Pictures.”

“Appalachia, a region deeply synonymous with tradition, is changing faster than any time in recent history and perhaps faster than anywhere else in America.  The internet, the global economy, and the widening of roads have all co-conspired to bring attention and change to a region that robustly resisted it for generations.  The Mountain Traditions Project tells the stories of 50 individuals who are carrying forward Appalachian traditions in our rapidly changing world, challenging long-held notions of cultural rigidity in Appalachia, and exploring the heritage of the region as a rich, diverse tapestry of traditions that is inclusive of a plurality of voices, identities, and perspectives.”

Explore Michael O. Snyder’s “Mountain Traditions Project” Website

“Mountain Traditions Project – Trailer”   (3:47/2012/Michael Snyder)

     “Hammered Dulcimer ~ Irish Jigs”

“Two Irish Jigs, ‘Out on the Ocean’ & ‘The Legacy’, played on a Rick Thum Hammered Dulcimer.”   (2:18/2008 / Dick Glascow)

     “Hammered Dulcimer ~ Scottish Set of Tunes”

“The Scottish tunes played on my Rick Thum Hammered Dulcimer are: ‘The Braes of Tulliemet’;  ‘Scarce o’ Tatties’;  & ‘Drummond Castle’ ”   (3:33/2008 / Dick Glascow)

     “The Hammered Dulcimer Builder” – The Mountain Traditions Project

“Steve Raschella is a hammered dulcimer builder from Keyser, West Virginia. Here he shares his story of carrying forward Appalachian Traditions in our rapidly changing world.”   (10:51/2012 / Appalachian Independent)

“Traditional Clogging Duet”

“Morgan and Madison – 2013 Clogging Champions of America – Showdown of Champions in Knoxville, TN”   (1:46/2013 / Morgan Mallum)

“Martha Graham’s ‘Appalachian Spring’” –  (4 Parts)

Choreographed by Martha Graham — Original Score by Aaron Copland — Premiered 1944

“Springtime in the wilderness is celebrated by a man and woman building a house with joy and love and prayer; by a revivalist and his followers in their shouts of exaltation; by a pioneering woman with her dreams of the Promised Land.”

Dancers in this film: The Bride: Martha Graham; The Husbandman: Stuart Hodes; The Revivalist: Bertram Ross; The Pioneer Woman: Matt Turney; The Revivalists’ Flock: Yuriko, Helen McGehee, Ethel Winter, Miriam Cole

Film Directed and Photographed by Peter Glushanok, Produced by Nathan Kroll, Presented by WQED Pittsburgh. Filmed in black and white in 1959.

Part 1     (8:05/2010 / danceonfilm)

  • 1st movement: Very slowly. Introduction of the characters, one by one, in a suffused light.
  • 2nd movement: Fast. Sudden burst of unison strings in A major arpeggios starts the action. A sentiment both elated and religious gives the keynote to this scene.
  • 3rd movement: Moderate: Duo for the Bride and her Intended; scene of tenderness and passion.


Part 2    (9:04/2010 / danceonfilm)

  • 4th movement: Quite fast. The Revivalist and his flock. Folksy feeling; suggestions of square dances and country fiddlers.
  • 5th movement: Still faster. Solo dance of the Bride.  Presentiment of motherhood. Extremes of joy and fear and wonder.
  • 6th movement: Very slowly (as at first). Transition scene to music reminiscent of the introduction.


Part 3    (7:32/2010/ danceonfilm)

  • 7th movement: Celebration of marriage and newfound relationships. This is the iconic use of the ‘Simple Gifts’ theme that arguably makes this music piece famous.
  • 8th movement: Fast and manic. The revivalist warns the newlyweds of the perils of evil on the frontier.
  • 9th movement: Dramatic and deep. The husbandman seeks guidance from the pioneer woman.
  • 10th movement: Fast and folksy as before: A return to the flock admiring the preacher.

Part 4    (7:09/2010 / danceonfilm)

  • 11th movement: Fast and manic. The bride worries about her impending life on the frontier. We see her suggesting childbirth and rearing.
  • 12th movement: Slow and calm. The husbandman comes to the bride to console her with his newfound guidance.
  • 13th movement: Dramatic replaying of the theme. The “Simple Gifts” tune is played once again dramatically as all the characters celebrate the coming of the husband and wife to the frontier.
  • 14th movement: Slow and resolute: The characters’ recessional. We leave the bride and husbandman to their newfound future.

“In 1926, Martha Graham formed the Martha Graham Dance Company, which was founded on the principles of dance as inner expression. Therefore, she did not aspire for movement to be beautiful, as much of classical ballet demanded, but rather that it be significant… She often created works entirely from the roots upwards, including the costumes, music and choreography. She collaborated with and/or taught the foremost artists and dancers of her time, including dancers Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharpe, and Merce Cunningham, composer Aaron Copland, and sculptor Isamu Noguchi.”

“The Road Home: Songs of West Virginia”  &  “The Road Home II: More Songs of West Virginia” – Various Artists



“West Virginia has a storied folk music history, and as music historian (and West Virginian) Scott Hill noticed, a lot of songs have been written about coming back to West Virginia, songs full of the kind of longing only a true home can inspire. Hill assembled and released a collection of various artists singing about coming home to West Virginia called The Road Home back in 2005, and this 2010 set is a second volume of similar songs, highlighted by Heidi Muller’s version of Hazel Dickens’ “West Virginia My Home” and Ron Sowell and Mira Stanley’s rendition of Utah Phillips’ “Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia,” among others. Home is where you dream of, and West Virginia has certainly inspired its share of dreams, and songs.”  (Review from AllMusic)

Explore AllMusic’s “The Road Home: Songs of West Virginia” Commercial Website

Explore AllMusic’s “The Road Home II: More Songs of West Virginia” Commercial Website

“Sixteen Tons” – “Dark As a Dungeon” – “Loading Coal” – Johnny Cash

“Johnny Cash Show – 1×20 [Ep 20] – [Feb. 18 ’70]”  —  (7:48/2010 / PeterRabbit59)

WV Music –  West Virginia Music   WV Arts – West Virginia Arts

WV State Songs – West Virginia State Songs

WV Dance – West Virginia Dance   West Virginia Music and Dance

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