Ella Hennessee jams with her instructor, Susan Ware-Snow.
Locals leading the way in
preserving musical traditions
By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr., Special to The Courier
I have a certificate, proudly displayed on my wall, from the Stamps-Baxter Normal Music School, verifying that “Tommy Cloer after having passed a reasonably rigid examination and by good deportment is entitled to this Theory Grade Certificate, June 8th –June 26th, 1953.”
The music school sessions were attended by all ages, children and adults. The teachers informed my parents that I was the youngest ever to pass their exam on the Rudiments of Music. I had just finished the second grade. I also have on my “Books in Use” shelf a 1939 song book titled “Favorite Songs and Hymns: Shape Notes,” compiled by Virgil O. Stamps and J.R. Baxter and published by Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Co., Inc., which had thriving businesses in Dallas, Texas, Pangburn, Ark., and Chattanooga, Tenn. Suffice it to say the company “done real good” in Southern Appalachian churches.
Sacred Appalachian music is central to many of us that as children had those emotional, life-lifting sounds implanted in our minds. I remember vividly when this music began to move out of the churches in Southern Appalachia and began to be used as entertainment, as well as being used for worship. This was, I think, a