Our music collection focuses on the tunes and stories of Floyd Countians who sing and make their own music at home and in church. From home audio tapes recorded on reel-to-reel or on cassette recorders to the templates Stanley Lorton created for building his mandolins, our collection represents the range of music that has brightened and lightened hearts for more than one hundred years. We also have records and interviews from local gospel, old-time, and bluegrass performers.
This music party on the front lawn of Old Church Gallery accompanied the opening of the 2013 exhibit, “R.O.’s Dancing Dolls.” Musicians included Hannah Traynham, Mac Traynham, George Slusher (R.O.’s son,) along Reuben Slusher, Daisy Slusher, and Steve Terry. Ann-Margaret Shortt holds the strings suspending the dolls. See our Folk Art Collection records for more about the dancing dolls.
Song accompanied story with the early popularity of community shape-note singing. Traveling singing masters held evening singing schools in churches. These sessions were mostly done a cappella and those attending learned to distinguish notes by their shapes and harmonize on hymns such as “Wondrous Love.”
In the early Baptist and Brethren churches, the song leader would “line” songs. He would sing one line of a hymn, then repeat it with the congregation joining in. Line by line, they would cover every verse of the song in a time when songbooks and literate churchgoers were rare. In “Burks Fork Brethren Church History,” Mrs. Lillian Weddle Hylton (1894-1997) recalled the singing schools at Burks Fork Church of the Brethren (also known as Union Church) led by Brother Jed Sowers. Large crowds attended with prizes given to those who sang best. First prize at one of these singing schools was a glass water pitcher.