exploring southern appalachia

Garret K. Woodward

Noted banjo picker and Western North Carolina native Raymond Fairchild has died, following a heart attack.  He was 80. Fairchild performed at the Grand Ole’ Opry on numerous occasions and was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2015.  Last month, Fairchild appeared in BPR’s “Exploring Southern Appalachia” series.   

Fairchild’s final arrangements haven’t yet been announced.  In addition to his storied banjo career, he and his wife Shirley ran the Maggie Valley Opry for more than 30  years.                                                      

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

What is Southern Appalachia’s place in U.S. history and identity - and in particular - the country’s politics?  Voting patterns in the region have stayed remarkbly stable in presidential elections in recent decades - certainly in comparison to the rest of the region known as Appalachia - but the region's significance in those races may be a bit overstated.

Garret K. Woodward

The complex identity of Southern Appalachia pervades film, literature and academia, but the stereotypes portrayed in those disciplines even extend to the region’s best-known export – music – and its most famous instrument.

Lilly Knoepp

  The Appalachian Studies community is a tightly knit group of academics, writers and historians from across the country. When news happens in the community it spreads fast - or at least that’s what happened when “Hillbilly Elegy” came out.  

The best-seller’s subtitle says that it’s “a memoir of a family and a culture in crisis.”  

Cory Vaillancourt

This week on Blue Ridge Public Radio, we’ve been looking at the complex cultural identity of Southern Appalachia. In our first installment, we examined the 1972 film Deliverance – which presented some very negative stereotypes of the region.

That wasn’t the first time it happened, and it wouldn’t be the last.