Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 2013-2014

SEPTEMBER 9, 2015 at Noon, No Tickets Required

David Reed, Hugh Campbell and others

Coolidge Auditorium

In celebration of the legacy of the pioneering old-time musician Ola Belle Reed (1916-2002), Reed’s son Dave Reed, her nephew Hugh Campbell, and members of the acclaimed bluegrass band Danny Paisley and Southern Grass gather to perform bluegrass and gospel songs of their Appalachian heritage.

Ola Belle Reed, an important singer, guitarist, banjo player, and songwriter, was born in North Carolina. Her family followed many other migrants from the southern Appalachians to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border area during the Great Depression, where they transformed the local culture; even today, the region is known for bluegrass music. Dave Reed and Hugh Campbell (above right), photo by Edwin Remsberg. 

Ola Belle Reed book cover

Reed was a big part of this transformation, playing with some of the first southern-style string bands organized in the area during the 1930s. Her brother Alex Campbell joined her after his return from World War II, and they became central to the musical traditions of the area. They founded the popular band Alex & Ola Belle and the New River Boys and Girls, and also operated Campbell’s Corner, a general store in Oxford, Pennsylvania, which was equipped with a performance stage and a remote broadcasting booth, allowing them to reach large audiences.

In 1966, folklorist Henry Glassie, then based in Philadelphia, encountered Ola Belle in Oxford. Over the next two years, Glassie recorded the deep repertoire of Ola Belle Reed – folk ballads, minstrel songs, country standards, and originals such as “I’ve Endured,” penned by Ola Belle herself. Glassie also chronicled the remarkable story of the pre-war migration of communities from the Blue Ridge Mountains toward the Mason-Dixon Line. Copies of Henry Glassie’s Ola Belle Reed collections, as well as earlier recordings of Reed, are part of the AFC archive. Some four decades later, Maryland state folklorist Clifford Murphy struck out to discover if this rich musical tradition still existed in small Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania towns, and began making audio recordings to document the descendants of Ola Belle’s musical legacy, including the musicians performing in this concert.

On September 10 there will be a symposium featuring scholars of music and folklore discussing the impact of Ola Belle Reed’s legacy on traditional music today and talking about the new publication Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line, which features recordings by Glassie and Murphy. Learn more about the symposium

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.