Recordings from the Sound Archives that have been converted to digital formats can be found in Berea Digital. You can browse recordings there or start searching for specific genres, titles, performers, or locations (by county, state) below:
Fifty-six audio field recordings (1970s) of interviews and performances that document the repertoire and styles of several Kentucky fiddlers, banjo players, and ballad singers mainly from the state’s northeastern region.
Correspondence, photographs, diary photocopies, folk song lyrics, interviews, sound and video recordings documenting the career of North Carolina folk music scholar and festival organizer, Bascom Lamar Lunsford. Tune titles and performer names are searchable via an in-house database and printed index. (10 ms boxes)
Photographs and digital copies of nine reel-to-reel audio tape recordings of singers, fiddlers, banjo players, and other traditional musicians, some of whom are otherwise undocumented. The recordings were made in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Alabama during the mid-1960s by Bill Parker of Paducah, Kentucky.
Correspondence, photographs, interview transcripts, clippings, songbooks, sheet music, and other printed material documenting the career of Kentucky country music radio pioneer, Bradley Kincaid. (14 ms boxes)
One hundred seventy-four (174) audio field recordings (1970s-1990s) of interviews and performances that document the repertoire and playing styles of several dozen Kentucky fiddlers, mainly from the state’s southern and southeastern regions.
Correspondence, articles, photographs, and sound recordings documenting the career, repertoire, and musical talent of Buell Kazee, Kentucky folk singer, banjo player, and Baptist minister. Performance and interview recordings are particularly notable for their extensive documentation of Kazee’s distinctive banjo fingering techniques and tunings. (3 ms boxes)
Radio program sound recordings, program play lists, published song books, photographs, and personal appearance programs documenting the radio performing career of the Cash Quartet from Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Members included Walter Cash and his wife Reba; a sister, Joanne; and R.H. Hamm. (2 ms boxes)
Printed country music photo albums and souvenir song books published by performers, radio stations or program sponsors. They contain photographs and biographical information as well as song lyrics. Song styles represented include comedy, country, western, and gospel. Well known artists documented include the Carter Family and Roy Acuff. Also represented are several of the able but lesser known performers who made few, if any commercial recordings but achieved substantial regional popularity through radio and in-person performing at theaters, schools, churches, and county fairs.
118 cassette tapes from Ed Ward, a long time recordings collector, poet, and prose writer who lived at Bledsoe in Harlan County, Kentucky. Among recordings are interviews and music performances that document early Kentucky old time musicians as Blind Dick Burnett, John V. Walker, Arthur Johnson, Ernest Martin, W.L. Gregory, the Jones Creek Quartet, and the widow of Blind James Howard, whose ballads and fiddle tunes were recorded by the Library of Congress in 1937. There are also recordings of Ward reading from His Tall Tales of the Hills and copies from various sources, of 78 rpm discs that document many lesser known traditional recording artists of the 1920s and 1930s.
Several hundred ballads and religious songs collected by Berea student and Owsley County, Kentucky native Gilbert Reynolds Combs. Much of his collecting occurred during his turn of the century student days at Berea and his work as a Methodist pastor in Kentucky and North Carolina during the first half of the 1900s. The secular ballad and song material come mainly from Kentucky. The religious songs are from both Anglo and African American traditions found in Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Also included are biographical material recounting Comb’s career, his notes recalling memories of early childhood, and description of the kind of social settings in which various traditional songs might be heard. (1 ms box)
Fifty-seven audio and ten video field recordings of interviews and performances that mainly document southeastern Kentucky Old Regular Baptist singing traditions 1990-1996. Also documented are the repertoire and playing style of southern Kentucky fiddler, Clyde Davenport 1990-1991. Included as well is an undated, published video, “A Singing Stream: A Black Family Chronicle” (Landis Family gospel singers of Granville County, North Carolina) produced by Titon associate, Tom Davenport.
Several hundred ballads, songs, fiddle, and banjo tunes, some with musical notation, collected from Berea College students during the early 1900s by John F. Smith. Also included are lists of musical instruments played in the students’ home communities and descriptions of house dances and singing schools they participated in. (4 ms boxes)
One-hundred ninety-nine (199) audio field recordings (1970s-1990s) of interviews and performances that document the repertoire and playing styles of several dozen Kentucky fiddlers, mainly from the state’s south central and northeast regions.
This collection consists of forty eight acetate disc recordings made in the early 1940s that document Magoffin County, Kentucky fiddler and banjo player, John Morgan Salyer. Salyer was born in 1882 and was master of an older eastern Kentucky style that is only barely discernible in the playing of present day fiddlers and banjoists.
Interviews and performances by several traditional musicians and story tellers, their associates, and scholars. The recordings were made during the 1970s by North Carolina folksinger and storyteller, Lee Knight. A large portion of the collection focuses on banjo players such as Frank Proffitt, Jr. and Roscoe Holcomb and their repertoires. Also includes lap dulcimer, African American singing from Johns Island, South Carolina, African American children’s game songs, Jack tales, and unaccompanied ballad singing. Notable women performers include Malvena Reynolds, Almeda Riddle, Roberta Voyles, and Lily May Ledford. There are also interviews with folk music scholars, Anne and Frank Warner, performer/activists, Guy and Candie Carawan, and country-bluegrass musicians, Bill Monroe, Kenny Baker, Ralph Stanley, and Roy Acuff.e.
Correspondence, concert / bluegrass festival programs, advertising material, photographs, sound and video recordings that document the Mclain Family Band’s performing activity between 1968 and 1989. (52 ms boxes)
Song lyrics, poems, and sound recordings authored or collected by Nora E. Carpenter of Magoffin County, Kentucky, mostly during the period 1920 - 1960. Also included are numerous clippings of published song lyrics, poetry, and community history, along with a few song books published by regional country music radio performers during the 1940s and 1950s. Seven self recorded reel-to-reel audio tapes document Nora Carpenter’s singing, banjo and harmonica playing during the 1960s-1970s. (3 ms boxes)
Correspondence, clippings, and audio recordings of music and interviews that reflect Powell’s efforts at documenting a host of early country music performers, mainly 1930 to 1950. He was particularly interested in those from Kentucky and any associated with such radio programs as the National Barn Dance and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. (10 ms boxes and 13 card file boxes)
Thirteen compact discs containing over 350 tunes documenting the repertoire and performance style of North Carolina fiddler, Roger Howell. The tunes were recorded in 2007. Howell provides narratives about where and from whom he learned the tunes, the keys in which he learned them, and the dates of the recordings.
Handwritten lyrics to fifty-three ballads collected by Berea College student, McClure from her mother, Talitha Powell, during the 1915-16 school year. The Elder Powell later sung several of these songs for ballad scholar, Cecil Sharp on his 1917 Berea visit. (1 ms box)
This collection consists of 29 sound cassettes, 18 reel-to-reel audio tapes, and 7 VHS cassettes recordings documenting the fiddling and gospel singing traditions of Walter McNew (1912-) from Rockcastle County, Kentucky. The earliest recordings were made by Walter and his siblings on reel-to-reel tape. They document both Walter alone and as part of a family gospel quartet with siblings, Astor, Homer, and Bernice (Branaman). The solo recordings, made by Walter in the early 1970s, are of his old-time fiddling and shape note hymns using a homemade system of "overdubbing" which allowed him to record two or three harmonizing parts. Some of these recordings were used on "The Lifeline Hour" radio program conducted by Rev. Homer McNew on station WRVK in Renfro Valley, Kentucky.
Home video and audio recordings and radio programs, 1950s - 1970s, and video field recordings made in 2008 that document a wide range of singers and instrumentalist from Whitley and nearby counties in Kentucky and just over the border in Tennessee. Especially notable are performances by fiddlers Claude Harmon and Marion Pridemore, the Prichard Quartet and Melody Five Gospel groups and numerous other local musicians on the Country Music Express radio programs. The video recordings from 2008 document present day musicians and singers ranging in age from 60 to 85. Among these are two finger banjoist Junior McKeehan, fiddlers J.L. Burke and Ulysses Grant "Dick" Taylor, and singers Margarette Bowlin and Jessie Martin.