MURFREESBORO — Renowned folk scholar Stephen Wade is bringing the music, stories and photos of Depression-era Southern field workers to MTSU in a special Sept. 24-25 campus visit that features free public concerts and chats.
The largest event, “A Concert and Conversation with Stephen Wade,” is set Thursday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m. in Room S102 of MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building as part of the university’s Tom T. Hall Writers Series.
Wade also plans a mini-concert at noon Wednesday, Sept. 24, in MTSU’s James Walker Library Atrium, followed by an informal meet-and-greet session in the library’s Periodicals Lounge from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The Grammy-nominated folk musician/scholar/author’s performance incorporates live music, projected imagery and spoken narrative to explore the stories behind his award-winning 504-page book, “The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience.”
“Beautiful Music” is a collection of Library of Congress field recordings spanning from 1934 to1942 and hailing from Southern Appalachia down to the Mississippi Delta. To learn more about these recordings, including a brief video interview with Wade, you can visit http://ow.ly/uBEEA.
During his campus visit, Wade also plans to work with MTSU students. Wade's visit was originally planned last March, but a winter storm in his home state of Maryland convinced organizers to reschedule the events for this fall.
Dr. Greg Reish, the new director of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, has known Wade for some time and has worked with him.
“Stephen is an extraordinary scholar and musician, passionately devoted to the vernacular music of the United States and the people who make it,” Reish said. “His presentations are truly marvelous, and we are very excited to welcome such a captivating and engaging figure.”
Wade became intrigued by traditional music and folklore as a youngster growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s, where he met musicians moving into the city from the Mississippi Delta and the Southern Appalachians. He learned guitar at age 11 and eventually switched his attentions to the banjo, ultimately traveling across the United States to research American humor and folk tales and meet with folk musicians in the field.
Wade developed acclaimed theater performances, including “Banjo Dancing” and “On The Way Home,” to share his love of folk music and history. Wade also was a part of the public television documentary “The Unquiet Library,” a study of the Library of Congress’s music division, and has authored essays, reviews and articles published around the country.
He has recorded and/or produced more than a dozen albums, including his most recent, the Grammy-nominated “Banjo Diary: Lessons from Traditions” on the Smithsonian Folkways label.
All Wade’s appearances at MTSU are free and open to the public. They’re co-sponsored by the MTSU College of Mass Communication, The Center for Popular Music, MTSU College of Liberal Arts, Department of History, School of Music, and the Virginia Peck Trust.
The Tom T. Hall Writers Series in the College of Mass Communication at MTSU celebrates songwriters, authors, poets and screenwriters and offers students, faculty, staff and the public a chance to learn more about the creative process as well as the business end of success.