Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle explore storytelling and tradition, weaving sparse arrangements of traditional Appalachian music—ballads, fiddle tunes and harmonies—with storytelling, shadow puppetry and scrolling illustrations called crankies. They have shared their multimedia show—to great acclaim—across the U.S. and abroad, including the Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the High Museum of Modern Art in Atlanta, The Creative Alliance in Baltimore, the Seattle Folk Festival, and the Lexington Opera House, as well as in living rooms, community centers, and schools throughout the mountains.
The musical duo comes to the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton on Friday, December 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Both young women have immersed themselves in the tradition, spending their spare time with the old masters of the music and their kin, gathering stories and tunes to share with their audiences. They create original art—long quilted, papercut, or printed illustrations which are slowly scrolled in performance, the images corresponding to a ballad or oral history—to better share the rich context and history of the mountains. Each month, they also produce and write an old-time radio show in Floyd, Virginia. Their radio show draws together traditional music groups (from old-time to bluegrass and blues to the music played by recent Latino and African immigrants to the area) woven into in a variety show complete with original skits, comedy routines and sound effects.
Anna (vocals, fiddle, banjo, guitar, feet) moved south to immerse herself in Appalachian music and has apprenticed with the masters of the Kentucky fiddle tradition—Bruce Greene, John Harrod and Paul David Smith—as well as banjo players Lee Sexton and Earl Thomas. She was a fellowship recipient at Berea College, where she researched the lives of female fiddlers in Kentucky, and she is in the process of helping folklorist Bruce Greene write his memoirs. Anna is also filming a documentary about the Clodhoppers, a central Kentucky string band. She recently produced a compilation album showcasing Appalachia’s finest young traditional musicians: The New Young Fogies, with Joseph DeJarnette. Anna has also taught at fiddle camps throughout the southeast, and is faculty coordinator of the Cowan Music School—Kentucky’s sole traditional music school.
Elizabeth is a young ballad singer and banjo player from Rural Retreat, Virginia, whose heartfelt and powerful singing has won her prizes at regional fiddlers conventions since the age of eleven. She has learned the ballad tradition under the guidance of her mother, as well as acclaimed ballad singers Sheila Kay Adams, Bobby McMillon, and Ginny Hawker. She has recorded three solo albums, and her singing has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, most recently, and Prairie Home Companion, when she was 15 years old. She has sung for audiences across the country, the Republic of Georgia, and Ireland, and she has taught Appalachian ballads and unaccompanied singing at music camps and workshops. When not on stage, she lives on a farm, with her three goats.
Opera House doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton. Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.
The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Financial support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals, Pendleton Community Bank, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Allegheny Mountain Radio and the Law Office of Roger D. Forman.