In the early 20th century, Piedmont mill towns were incubators for innovative string bands and musical performers in an emerging genre known as country music. Mill workers sang of their hard fate, protesting living conditions, poor wages and workplace struggles. As tension increased between management and labor, the songs became a rallying cry in labor halls, on strike lines and at protest rallies.
At the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, musicians Gregg Kimball, Sheryl Warner and Jackie Frost will present Cotton Mill Colic: Songs of Labor from the North Carolina Piedmont, which will draw on commercial recordings by millworkers, such as Dave McCarn, the Dixon Brothers and Wilmer Watts as well as union strike songs—especially those sung by Ella Mae Wiggins, the voice of the 1929 Gastonia strike. This free performance takes place Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m. in Daniels Auditorium. Parking is free on weekends.
With Kimball on guitar, banjo and fiddle, Warner and Frost will add their own distinctive vocal styles. Warner's rich, expressive voice has developed from more than 30 years of singing in the blues and folk traditions.
With two CDs to her credit, Frost’s music is grounded in early-American music traditions, ranging from early country to jazz to blues. She is especially adept at tight, soul-stirring harmonies.
Kimball is a historian and musician who has lectured and written extensively on the South’s musical traditions. He is Director of Public Services and Outreach at the Library of Virginia. He earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia.
Don’t miss this performance with an intriguing, historical twist on March 4 at the N.C. Museum of History.
About the N.C. Museum of History
The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St. in Raleigh, across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.