Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s nonprofit educational partner, Great Smoky Mountains Association, has been nominated for a Grammy Award for best historical album for their CD Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music.
The CD includes 34 historic songs, ballads, and instrumentals recorded in 1939 by “song catcher” Joseph S. Hall. The Recording Academy announced the Grammy nominations on Wednesday, December 5th, at a live broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee.
“This has been a huge surprise and a huge honor for a small association like ours,” said Terry Maddox, the association’s executive director. “We’re overjoyed at the nomination and proud that we’ve played a role in preserving these very special recordings.”
The little-known Smoky Mountain recordings were collected when Hall was a young graduate student on a project to collect genuine Smokies speech and music. The creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930s forced hundreds of families to pack up and leave their mountain homes and relocate elsewhere. Hall’s mission was to preserve as much as he could before the unique culture had dispersed. Songs featured on the CD include “My Home is in the Smoky Mountains,” “Don’t Forget me Little Darling,” “Mule Skinner Blues,” “Ground Hog,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” and “Up on Pigeon River.”
As part of the association’s effort to produce the CD and preserve the cultural history of the area, the producers issued news releases throughout the region to track down any surviving musicians featured on the recordings or their descendants. At least 18 relatives of the original musicians featured on the CD responded enthusiastically and sent photographs and anecdotes about their relatives. Two of the musicians who were recorded in 1939 were still alive. The photos and information received were incorporated into the 40-page liner note booklet that accompanies the CD.
Three scholars integral to the development of the CD and its extensive liner notes were Dr. Michael Montgomery of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Ted Olson of East Tennessee State University, and Park Ranger Kent Cave of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Others contributing to the project include Lisa Horstman, graphic artist and cover designer, John Fleenor, sound engineer, Betsy Layman, lyrics transcriber, and Steve Kemp, co-editor and co-producer.
Great Smoky Mountains Association is a private non-profit organization whose mission it is to support the preservation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park through education, interpretation, and research. Since their establishment in 1953, GSMA has provided over $29 million in support to the national park. To learn more about the association’s projects and membership opportunities, please visit www.SmokiesInformation.org.