Collecting and Preserving the Heritage
Madison County has been fertile musical ground since the first settler with a fiddle under his arm and a ballad in his voice set foot on this new land just north of Asheville in the 1790s. In those early years, the Scots-Irish settlers found time at the end of their days to gather with family and neighbors sharing the ballads and fiddle tunes brought with them when they came to his new land. That music was passed down through the generations in much the same manner. Madison County has the longest unbroken tradition of ballad singing in the United States. This collection of music treasures remained hidden until the efforts of two men brought the heritage to other’s attention. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, a musician himself, was born in Madison county but Cecil Sharp, a scholar and folksong collector, had to travel from England for this purpose. The movie, “Songcatcher” is loosely based on the discovery and collection of that music. Both were responsible for preserving the rich musical heritage of Madison County beginning in the early 1900s.