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Sing Me Home: A tribute to Al Petteway

Al Petteway at Swannanoa Gathering Guitar Week Staff Concert.
Courtesy Vicki Genfan.
Al Petteway at Swannanoa Gathering Guitar Week Staff Concert.

Al Petteway was a beloved luminary, not only in the acoustic music world but also in his adopted hometown of Asheville, NC.

He and his wife and musical partner, Amy White, made a home in Asheville filled with music, art and dogs and cats. Petteway passed away in September 2023.

Amy White visited BPR to share stories and memories of her life with Al.

“Our first house in the area was in Fairview, above 4500 feet,” White recalls. “It just felt like home (here) from the very first moment. We visited that house and both broke into tears of joy.”

Al Petteway and Amy White at a photo shoot for “Racing Hearts.”
Photo courtesy of Katherine Lambert.
Al Petteway and Amy White at a photo shoot for “Racing Hearts.”

Al’s passing brought forth an outpouring of tributes and memories, including an obituary in Acoustic Guitar magazine, as well as hundreds of cards, letters and emails.

“Reading those tributes (did) my heart good to see how much Al and his music have touched others’ lives,” White said. “He and I had such an amazing life together. I want to celebrate our love forever.”

Al Petteway’s had many identities in the acoustic guitar world: Grammy winner. Composer. Producer/engineer. Multi-instrumentalist. Educator.

Petteway was known known for his versatility, humility and ease as a fingerstyle guitarist.

“He could play effortlessly with any musician,” writes Sean McGowan for Petteway’s obituary in Acoustic Guitar magazine, “and (he) could easily transcend classic and contemporary folk, blues, modern string-band music, and the traditional music of the British Isles.

In addition to being Al’s life partner, Amy White was his primary musical partner as well. Together the two multi-instrumentalists recorded numerous albums for which they received several awards and honors. Their work was featured in Ken Burns' documentaries, and they held artist residencies at the Kennedy Center as well as Warren Wilson College.

“Thank you for celebrating Al’s artistic work, and for remembering his kind and gentle nature,” Amy wrote in a Facebook post. “(And) for keeping him in your heart, and for holding me safe in your heart right alongside him. The world has lost so very much with his passing.”

Laura Blackley has been making music in Western North Carolina for several years. She’s a singer, songwriter and guitarist who specializes in country, blues and rock with an emphasis on songwriting.