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Lily May Ledford Collection

Overview

Abstract

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Printed Matter

Original Audio Recordings

Interview Transcripts



Contact us about this collection

Lily May Ledford Collection, 1936-1985 | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: Lily May Ledford Collection, 1936-1985Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Ledford, Lily May -- 1917-1985

Extent: 1.0 MS boxes

Arrangement:

The collection is arranged in series as follows:

Series 1: Printed Matter

Series 2: Original Audio Recordings

Series 3: Interview Transcripts

This is a reference collection comprised of material from Berea College's Appalachian Center, Hutchins Library, interviews recorded by Lisa Yarger and others, and manuscript and photographic items from Ledford's granddaughter, Cari Norris. Follow links in the recordings box list to hear recordings and read interview transcripts.

Abstract

Lily May Ledford (1917-1985) grew up in eastern Kentucky's rural Powell County, one of fourteen children.  She learned ballads and hymns from her mother and fiddle tunes and popular songs from her father.  She learned to play the fiddle and banjo quite early and in her teens was performing for community dances and entertaining tourists visiting the scenic Red River Gorge area near her home.

In the late 1930s she came to the attention of Kentucky radio entrepreneur, John Lair, who was working as a producer and MC for country music programs on Chicago radio station WLS.  She was well received by WLS audiences and eventually came to work for Lair when he started his own radio show, the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, in Cincinnati and later at Renfro Valley in Rockcastle County Kentucky.

Lily May and sisters Rosie and Minnie were the key members of the Coon Creek Girls, probably the first all-female string band. They were among the most popular performers on John Lair's radio programs on Cincinnati's WLW and Louisville's WHAS beginning in 1937 and extending into the early 1950s.

After several years of relative retirement Lily May resumed performing in the 1960s playing at various folk festivals including those in Newport, RI, Washington, DC, and Montreal, Canada.

She was Berea College's Artist-in-Residence 1979-1980.  In 1985 she was named a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship Award in recognition of her legacy of traditional tunes and banjo picking techniques.  Traditional songs identified particularly with her include Banjo Pickin' Girl, How Many Biscuits Can You Eat? and John Henry.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of autobiographical writing, press clippings, articles, and photographs documenting the career of early country music performer, Lily May Ledford. Included in the collection are records documenting her time as a member of the Coon Creek Girls, recordings of her performing at Berea College and other venues, and a series of recorded interviews with associates and family members.

Biographical Note

Lily May Ledford; b. Mar. 17, 1917, Powell County, Ky., d. July 14, 1985; American clawhammer banjo and fiddle player.

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions:

Follow links in the box list to listen to recordings and read interview transcripts. Information regarding interviews is found with interview transcripts.

The collection can be accessed directly through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Use Restrictions: Federal copyright regulations apply to all other materials. Cite all information.

Acquisition Source: Cari Norris, Lily May Ledford's granddaughter

Related Materials:

Related Materials Available at Hutchins Library

Discography

Coon Creek Girls: Lily May, Rosie, & Susie [1967-68 recordings] (County 712)

Banjo Pickin' Girl (Rounder 1029)

The Coon Creek Girls-Early Radio Favorites (1930s) (Old Homestead OHCS 142)

Lily May Ledford: Banjo Pickin' Girl (Greenhays GR 712)

Video

Headwaters: Lily May Ledford.

Bibliography

High, Ellesa Clay. Past Titan Rock: Journeys Into An Appalachian Valley.

Yarger, Lisa J. Representing Lily May Ledford. M.A. Thesis, UNC Chapel Hill, 1997.

Wolfe, Charles. Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky (1982).

Preferred Citation: [Object identification], Lily May Ledford Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, KY.

Processing Information:

This collection is comprised of material formerly found in Berea College's Appalachian Center, Hutchins Library's Appalachian Vertical Files, manuscript and photographic items from Ledford's granddaughter, Cari Norris, and Masters thesis research material from Lisa Yarger.

The collection was processed by Harry Rice, Sound Archivist.

Finding Aid Revision History: The finding aid was updated in January 2016 to reflect the addition of Series II and III to the collection.

Other Note: BCA 0079 SAA 079


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Printed Matter],
[Series 2: Original Audio Recordings],
[Series 3: Interview Transcripts],
[All]

Series 3: Interview TranscriptsAdd to your cart.
This series is comprised of transcripts of audio recorded interviews conducted by David Freeman & Charles Faurot, Lisa Yarger for the Southern Oral History Program and John Rumble for the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Listen to the rcordings and read the transcripts by following the links for each tape in the Series 2 box list.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Coon Creek GirlsAdd to your cart.
Recorded by David Freeman and Charles Faurot, Berea, KY 9-66.  Lily May Ledford, b. 1917 / Charlotte "Rosie" Ledford Foley b. 1915 / Minnie "Black-eyed Susie" Ledford Malena b. 1923  Transcript by Lisa Yarger, 1996. (See cassette tapes SC-CT-858-001 through 004)
Folder 2: C.V. "Cotton" FoleyAdd to your cart.
Recorded by John Rumble, December 5, 1985 for the Kentucky Oral History Commission. (See cassette tape SC-CT-979-009)
Folder 3: Alice GerrardAdd to your cart.
Recorded by Lisa Yarger 10-14-96 Transcript by Lisa Yarger. (See cassette tape SC-CT-858-009.)
Folder 4: Barbara Greenlief (Lily May Ledford's daughterAdd to your cart.
Recorded by Lisa Yarger 4-27-96. Transcript by Lisa Yarger. (See cassette tapes SC-CT-858-010 and 011.)
Folder 5: Evelyn "Daisy" Lang PerryAdd to your cart.
Recorded by Lisa Yarger 8-13-93.  Also LY's notes on a 9-4-94 interview and EP's self recorded account of 5-30-94.  (See cassette tapes SC-CT-858-005, 006, 007, 008.)
Folder 6: Sue MassekAdd to your cart.
Recorded by Lisa Yarger 4-28-96.
Folder 7: Cari Norris (Lily May Ledford's granddaughter)Add to your cart.
Recorded by Lisa Yarger 4-26-96.  Transcript by Lisa Yarger. (See cassette tape SC-CT-858-013.)
Folder 8: Glenn PenningtonAdd to your cart.
Recorded by John Rumble, December 4, 1985 for the Kentucky Oral History Commission. (See cassette tapes SC-CT-979-022 and SC-CT-979-023)
Folder 9: Mike SeegerAdd to your cart.
Recorded via phone by Lisa Yarger 2-8-97.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Printed Matter],
[Series 2: Original Audio Recordings],
[Series 3: Interview Transcripts],
[All]


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