Acclaimed storyteller comes to Brundidge

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

The Brundidge Historical Society will present nationally acclaimed storyteller Sheila Kay Adams in two performances on Oct. 22 at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge.

The first performance, "Soup and Storytelling with Sheila Kay Adams," will be at 6 p.m. and the second, "Pie and Ponderin's" will be at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the first performance are $15 and for the after dinner performance, $12. Reservations may be made by calling 735-3125.

Sheila Kay Adams comes from a small community in western North Carolina.

She grew up listening to great storytellers. Stories from them and about them and her own growing up years in the community of Sodom form the nucleus of her performances. She is a gifted and talented performer on the clawhammer banjo. She captivates audiences with her stories, playing and singing.

Sheila Kay Adams is a seventh generation ballad singer. She sings the traditional Appalachian ballads in the same style in which they were handed down to her. She sounds remarkably like her older kinspeople – the same intensity, the same profound feeling for the ballad, with such a strong, clear voice.

Johnny Steed, a historical society member, attended Adams' performance at the Tale Tellin' Festival in Selma in October and said she is without a doubt the best storyteller he has ever heard.

"Sheila Kay Adams kind of slips up on you," he said. "She's not very demonstrative when she first comes on stage but you find yourself grinnin' and noddin' and needing stitches in your side from laughing. You are the somebody's she's talking about or you know somebody like that."

Adams tells stories about the people she grew up with who perpetuated the traditions of the mountain people .At one time, she performed on stage with eight traditional ballad singers from her community.

"She took that group of ballad singers to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and they were honored as national treasures," Steed said. "She is following right behind them.

Steed said there is no one word to describe Sheila Kay Adams. He's not ever sure if there are enough words.

"Real. Down-to-earth. Genuine. She has lived what she's talking about," he said. "There's nothing pretentious about her. She's our kind of people. Anyone who likes our play "Come Home, It's Suppertime" at the We Piddle Around Theater will love Sheila Kay Adams."

Dinah Kelsey, historical society officer, saw Adams for the first time last year at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn.

"I didn't know what to expect but I was very pleasantly surprised. She is an outstanding entertainer," she said. "I enjoyed the stories about the people in her community in North Carolina. One of them was so funny that those of us who attended the Festival often bring it into our conversations. We can all relate to the stories that she tells."

Sheila Kay Adams is well known for her award-winning accomplishments on the five-string banjo. She plays a clean, drop-thumb style and has taught at numerous music camps throughout the country. She has recorded several instrumental tapes with her husband Jim Taylor that feature fiddle tunes from the Civil War era.

Adams has been a featured performer in several documentary films, news and magazine articles. She was the song coach for the movie "Songcatcher" and was co-host and co-producer of "Over Home," a show for Public Radio. Her recordings, "Looking Forward, Looking Back," and "A Spring in the Burton Cove," and her story tape, "Don't Git Above Your Raising," have received very favorable reviews.

Adams has traveled extensively, performing at major festivals, colleges and universities, as well as several tours in the United States. She has also toured in England. She taught public school for 17 years before making the decision to pursue a career sharing the music, stories and heritage of her culture.

The seventh generation ballad singer is also an award-winning author.

Her novel, My Old True Love, based on a family story was published in 2004 and was on the Book Sense Best Seller list for four weeks.

She was selected to receive the prestigious North Carolina Folklore Society's Brown-Hudson Award in recognition of her valuable contributions to the study of North Carolina folklore.

Her great-aunt once said, "Sheila may not always know where's she's going but she sure knows where she comes from."