Celebrating Appalachia Culture and Music

Source: Pexels/Marta Wave

On January 13, the Appalachian Outreach program here at Sinclair will be hosting beautiful performances from 11:00 am-1:00 pm, as part of Sinclair’s Welcome Week events. The event commemorates and appreciates Appalachian culture through poems, music, stories and even a toymaker demonstration. 

But what is Appalachian culture? Many of the first Appalachian cultures were settlers from the Scottish and/or Irish regions who lived a rural lifestyle up in the mountains. However, there are also African-Americans who are Applachian as well, as many of these African Americans were freed slaves in the nineteenth century. These were loyal, resourceful groups of people who had faith-based, family-oriented traditions and lived in more rural areas than in the city. People in this culture learn to depend on each other and have a slower pace of life rather than what is often experienced in other cultures. 

(For a quick history of the Appalachian people, check out this short video, including the origin of the term. Source: YouTube/Masaman)

“After World War II, there was a huge migration out of the mountains into the cities to search for jobs,” said Nora Stanger, Appalachian Outreach Coordinator. “Rather than become just like the northern city people our people continued to cling to the ways of the mountains. This is demonstrated in our family and faith culture, traditional music, arts and storytelling.” Eventually, this would result in urban Appalachian communities forming in several different cities, even some that occur throughout Southwest Ohio. 

“Sinclair has assisted students of Appalachian heritage, many who are first-generation college students, to gain a sense of belonging and success in the higher education environment,” Stanger said. Many of these students of Appalachian background are also first-generation college students, which Sinclair helps guide and assist so they can be successful. 

The Appalachian culture and its music and other traditions can be traced back to their origins. There are several Applachian culture efforts throughout the Greater Dayton and Cincinnati area and many of these events highlight the foods, stories, craftsmanship and other aspects of the Appalachian culture. 

For the event on Wednesday, Stanger emphasizes that the Appalachian culture is a beautiful culture and the event shines a light on their culture. 

“We are trying to through our efforts to promote the beauty and richness of the Appalachian culture among students, faculty and staff,” Stanger said. “Sinclair’s efforts encourage people of the Appalachian heritage to feel pride in who we are and present a positive image on our culture.”

(Coal was one of the biggest economic drivers of the Appalachian for the better part of the last century. The region’s future is still up in the air as residents have left in exodus to cities and towns just outside the region. Source: YouTube/CBC News:The National)

The Appalachian culture event will be on Wednesday, January 13th on Zoom and will celebrate and present the beauty of the Appalachian culture. Stanger hopes that everyone attends so they can learn about the amazing culture. 

Jackie Kasner

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