Personal Oral History Recordings
We travel to record life stories and reminiscences with people reflecting on their lives, in sickness and in health. We gently help stories and memories unfold without pressure or probing. We make house calls, doing recording sessions of an hour or so over the course of a day or days. You may be surprised by the power and artistry of what emerges.
We weave audio walking and driving tours by intertwining excerpts of oral history and folklife interviews, using local music to further bring the ideas and places to life. In Historic St. Mary’s City we produced a walking tour scripted by others, a tour available on cell phone designed for walking along the grounds and feeling history come to life. Our four-CD Heritage Driving Tour of Pendleton County, West Virginia won the 2006 Division of Tourism’s Spirit of West Virginia Award. The tour is comprised of 40 voices along with local musicians. It is sold with a map and informs travelers about the highlights of each of Pendleton County’s three river valleys and to Franklin, the County Seat. Voices from the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike is a seven-CD series comprised of 100 voices interwoven with diverse music reflecting and celebrating life from earlier times including Native American flute music, pioneer hunting songs and Civil War dirges. The series carries listeners from the days of Indians and buffalos to European settlement and grist mill communities, to one room schools, the oil and gas boom, and the Great Depression in northcentral West Virginia.
Invite us us in to bring your community to life through a vibrant audio tour.
Folklife and Oral History Documentation
We will chronicle history and folklife in your locale, recording interviews and making photos which include a wide spectrum of people. Public and private organizations hire us and use our collections of interviews and photos to better understand trends and needs in local communities and to celebrate successes. We recorded 160 life story interviews for the National Park Service in Wheeling, WV creating a newspaper series, a radio series, a series of interpretive audio landscapes interweaving excerpts of many voices and musical clips. We recorded 60 interviews and produced a historical update for the Huntington District of the Corps of Engineers. We have documented folk arts in eastern Pennsylvania’s anthracite and Pennsylvania Dutch country, as well as in Holmes County, OH with Amish and “English,” and taught our skills to elementary school students living in Millersburg, OH. We documented folklore and oral history of the Underground Railroad in eastern Ohio and western West Virginia. We have worked with American Indian communities in western and piedmont North Carolina, and with Appalachian and small town GLBTQ people. We produce community panels, theater, radio programs, podcasts, CDs, articles and audio tours to share what we have recorded.
Courses & Workshops
We teach our style of gathering and recording oral testimonials through a class we call Listening for a Change. It can be set up to last for several hours, several weeks or somewhere in between. During the class students experience the power of being heard and the confidence that ensues. Students then learn how to give this gift of deep listening and to another person or community by recording testimonials.
Cool of the Day: Singing in Sacred Places is a class we offer upon request where students learn ear to ear and knee to knee some of the oldest and most powerful a cappella songs we’ve recorded from members of the older generation in the Allegheny Highlands of West Virginia. Many of these songs, carved on the Appalachian frontier by wind, weather and wit from people of many backgrounds, originated across the sea in the British Isles, including the oldest of them all, “Bangum and the Wild Boar,” dating back to the Ninth Century. We sing these songs together in natural settings. We teach this class by request.
Appalachian Songs of Then and Now mixes traditional songs from the Allegheny Highlands of West Virginia with coal mining and other heady songs from central Appalachia. Students learn the words and tunes orally, carrying home some of the most powerful music of Appalachia, written by well-known and up and coming songwriters, as well as an ancient ballad dating back to the time of Beowulf 1200 years ago. Along with learning the songs, you learn about the singers and place the music in the context of his or her life. Oftentimes we listen to audio recordings of the song carriers as they take us on a journey to meet the people and places of their home community. We teach this class by request.
See our Upcoming Events page to sign up for a course, or invite us over to teach in your community.
Audio CDs, Books and Digital Downloads
You can’t find these homemade recordings anywhere else. We made them in our home studio from our own field recordings with people who should be famous but aren’t yet. They include African American sacred music, personal accounts of life in small communities interwoven with one another to tell a story of a place no one person can tell. And our collection contains five CDs comprised of our own musical renditions on entwining voices and guitars, accompanied at times by musical friends, known and little known songs that tell intimate stories of people and places.