A 'songcatcher' comes to Montreat

Staff reports, Black Mountain News
Betty Smith has an extensive collection of Southern, Appalachian and British ballads, folk songs and hymns.

Legendary Songcatcher Betty Smith will speak and play Wednesday, July 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Montreat's Upper Anderson Auditorium.

Novelist Sharyn McCrumb has called Betty Smith "the voice behind the ballads," one that McCrumb said  inspired her ballad novel series. Smith has performed, taught and shared traditional music of the South for more than 30 years in concert halls, festivals, workshops, and classrooms.

Using her extensive collection of Southern, Appalachian and British ballads, folk songs and hymns, she has taken her audience on a cultural journey.  Smith has won several awards including the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award for "significant contributions to Appalachian music," the California Traditional Music Society and the Mountain Dance Folk Festival.

Smith has a keen interest in preserving the old ballads and folk tunes researched and collected by British authority Cecil Sharp in consultation with Western North Carolina resident Jane Hicks Gentry.  

The movie "Songcatcher" will be shown at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17 at the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat. This free showing is an entertaining look at the turn-of-the-20th Century effort to preserve folk songs from Appalachian mountaineers.

The July 20 program by Betty Smith is sponsored by the Montreat Adult Summer Club, formed in 1911 to provide entertaining and educational programs on a wide range of topics. The public is invited.  A donation of $1 is appreciated to help defray the costs of refreshments.