The North Carolina Folklore Society Awards
The North Carolina Folklore Society is proud to announce the winners of the 2012 Brown-Hudson and Community Traditions Awards.
The Brown-Hudson Award was created in 1970 in memory of Frank C. Brown of Duke University, a prolific documenter of North Carolina folklife, and Arthur Palmer Hudson, a professor at UNC and founder of the Society’s Journal. The Award recognizes individuals who have made significant meaningful contributions to the transmission, appreciation and observance of traditional culture and folklife in North Carolina. Brown-Hudson Award winners are traditional artists, scholars, documentarians, or activists. Past winners include Joe Thompson, Tommy Jarrell, Etta Baker, Archie Green, Ray Hicks, Adolph Dial and Alice Gerrard.
In 1992 the NC Folklore Society gave out the first of its Community Traditions Awards. This award honors the organizations and groups who engage in or support folklife and traditional culture in North Carolina. Community Traditions Awards have been awarded to community organizations, guilds, event organizers and singing groups such as The Alexander County First Sunday Singing Convention, The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Music Maker Relief Foundation, The Brasstown Carvers, and El Pueblo Inc.
2012 Brown-Hudson Awards
Alex and Elizabeth Albright
Inspired by a shared dedication to North Carolina’s history and traditions, Alex and Elizabeth Albright created a community institution in Fountain, a small town in rural Pitt County. In 1997 the Albrights opened the R.A. Fountain Store and Internet Cafe, specializing in selling the wares of traditional artists and musicians. The store is a also a gathering place and a music venue, where visitors enjoy some of North Carolina’s best bluegrass, blues, gospel and old time music. The Albrights have also helped support folklife through their newsletter Fountain AfterDark, and by hosting the North Carolina Folklore Society’s annual meeting in 2008.
Bill Myers is a musician, an educator, and an advocate for the arts in Eastern North Carolina. Myers was born in 1932 in the town of Wilson. He started playing the piano and drums at an early age, and took up the saxophone as a teenager. In 1958 he became a founding member of The Monitors. The Monitors were primarily an R&B and Jazz band, but they were known for their versatility, and their talented lineup, which at one time included legendary vocalist Roberta Flack. They continue to tour actively around the state 50 years later, and recently represented Rhythm and Blue at 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. At the same time Myers was playing with the Monitors, he was also serving his community as a bandleader, principal and superintendent in the Wilson County School System. Bill Myers has a deep commitment to the recognition of his home region’s rich cultural heritage. He is the ad hoc chair of the Advisory Committee for the African American Music Trails Project in eastern North Carolina, and sits on the board of directors for the Nestus Freeman Museum in Wilson.
Vollis Simpson has been making towering kinetic sculptures in his shop near Wilson, North Carolina since the 1970s. Simpson was raised in the Lucama Community in Wilson County. He served in World War Two as a member of the Army Air Corps. During the war he constructed his first windmill using parts from a B-29 to power a washing machine for the troops’ clothes. When he returned home, he opened a repair shop, mainly fixing farming equipment. In the 1970s and 80s Simpson started using salvaged parts and other found materials to construct a series of beautifully decorated and structurally complex windmills, also known as whirligigs. He placed them on his property, where they soon drew attention from near and far. His installations have graced the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. His whirligigs are currently being conserved and will be showcased in an outdoor museum in downtown Wilson. Simpson is also a recipient of the North Carolina Award.
Carmine Prioli has contributed to the appreciation of North Carolina’s folklife through his decades of work as a folklorist and an educator. Prioli is especially well known for documenting North Carolina’s coastal traditions. In 1998 he published In Hope For A Good Season, which detailed the history and traditional culture of Harkers Island. This was followed in 2002 by a collection of essays he co-edited about the NC coast entitled Life at the Edge of the Sea, and in 2007 with Wild Horses of Shackleford Banks. From 2004-2005 Prioli was the editor for the North Carolina Folklore Journal, a time period where the journal improved the quality of its design and broadened its range of subject material. He has been a professor in the English Department at North Carolina State University since 1977.
2012 Community Traditions Awards
The Green Grass Cloggers were formed in the 1970s by a group of old time music and dance enthusiasts at East Carolina University. Inspired by North Carolina’s traditions of flat-footing, square dancing and competitive clogging teams, they started their own group that combined elements of all three traditions. The Green Grass Cloggers became known for their high-energy performances, incorporation of high kicks and other signature moves, and their use of western-style 4 couple figures. Many of these practices have become part of the larger clogging team tradition, carried on in groups inspired by the Green Grass Cloggers, or started by former members. The Green Grass Cloggers have toured extensively, helping to bring traditional old time music and dance to audiences around the world. The group, which now has two active teams and multiple generations of dancers, celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2011.
The Heritage Quilters are an organization of more than thirty artisans of all ages from Halifax, Vance and Warren counties. The members of the group are united not only by their love of quilting, but by their recognition that quilting as a tradition is shared across cultural and ethnic boundaries. The group emphasizes quilting’s ability to create community, and teach values like cooperation, resourcefulness and creativity. Since 2001, when the Heritage Quilters were founded, that vision has expanded to include philanthropy, community development and advocacy.
Student Action with Farmworkers is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012. The organization is dedicated to creating a more equitable agricultural system in the U.S., by empowering agricultural workers and improving working conditions on farms. Their summer program produces collaborative documentary work between university students from around the country and agricultural workers and their communities in North Carolina. Trained documentarians teach students photography, audio recording and videography, as well as the principles and ethics of documentary work. Folklife and personal narratives play prominently in SAF documentaries. Due to their work, there is a greater understanding of the cultural contribution of farmworkers in North Carolina. This understanding is coupled with a mission that puts social responsibility at the forefront, enabling a more informed dialog about the many issues surrounding food production in our state and the country as a whole.
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