The Rev. Frank Newsome, who sang brilliantly at FloydFest in July, and Bobby Patterson, a banjo man who is an organizer of The Old Fiddlers Convention, in Galax, are among Virginia-based traditional artists selected for the first-ever round of Virginia Heritage Awards.
The Virginia Commission for the Arts presented the awards, “to honor Virginia masters of the traditional arts for their contributions to the cultural heritage of Virginia, to recognize the preservationists of traditional culture, and to bring public attention to important cultural traditions.
Go to http://www.arts.virginia.gov/news/VHArecipients09.html for the full list of winners.
Read more about Newsome and Patterson below.
From news release at http://www.arts.virginia.gov/news/VHArecipients09.html
Reverend Frank Newsome preaches at the Little David Church in Buchanan County, Virginia, where he has lived for the better part of 45 years. Frank and his congregation are part of a sub-denomination of the Baptist Church known as Old Regular Baptists. While their numbers are comparatively small, their rural locations, predominantly around the shared borders of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, and their strict adherence to church doctrine have helped the Old Regular Baptists to maintain many of their religious folkways.
Because Old Regular Baptist Church doctrine forbids musical accompaniment in their services, the congregation sings a cappella. This tradition consists of a preacher—often referred to as an elder—singing a line of hymn, and the congregation repeating the same line in a mournful blend of voices. This style and practice was particularly well-suited to the demands of the early churches, its call and response format allowing participation from those in attendance, many of whom could not read words or musical notation.
One of 22 children, Frank Newsome began attending Old Regular services with his mother as a child. By the time he was 20 years old, Mr. Newsome had moved to Virginia to work in the coal mines. He had his experience of Grace while mining in 1963 and began to preach at the Little David Baptist Church soon after. Frank put over seventeen years “under the mountain” before he contracted the dreaded black lung disease, an all too common affliction for those who toiled underground.
Bobby Patterson’s mother played guitar, and his maternal grandfather and three uncles were all musicians. On his father’s side, his father and his five brothers were musicians. Bobby started playing the guitar at age 6. By age 18, Patterson was playing the banjo with different bluegrass groups.
In 1972 he built his first recording studio, created a record label, and started recording and producing albums, first as Mountain Records and later as Heritage Records. In 1976 Mr. Patterson recorded Wayne Henderson’s first album with Ray Cline and Herb Key. In 1987, Patterson helped start the Old Time Herald magazine, a national publication dedicated to Old-Time Music.
Today Bobby Patterson is still a key link between local musicians and the community. He serves on the Galax Tourism Advisory Board and the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts Advisory Board. As president of the Blue Ridge Music Makers Guild since 1999, Patterson works with emerging youth musicians year-round, helps organize festivals and concerts, and promotes traditional music. As a leader in the Galax Moose Lodge (Governor 2006-07), he organizes the annual Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention—considered one of the oldest and largest fiddler’s conventions in the world.
The Virginia Commission for the Arts supports the arts with funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Commission distributes grant awards to artists, arts and other not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, educators and local governments and provides technical assistance in arts management. For more information, please visit our website at www.arts.virginia.gov or call 804-225-3132.