Songs & Stories of Scott's Run Project
The Scotts Run area of Monongalia County has been highlighted in a variety of ways over the past 8 decades. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the area as part of her education on poverty in Appalachia. Moved by what she saw, she formulated plans for what came to be the New Deal Community of Arthurdale. Federal photographers documented the area, while scholars and historians published paper after paper on the area.
In 2015 I was invited to attend a meeting at the Scotts Run Museum. A colleague at West Virginia University, Professor Eve Faulkes, had dug deeply into working with the community, engaging her graphic design students in projects that would tell the stories of Scotts Run and its people in new ways. Eve knew I had written a song about the area and invited me to play it for the residents that would be gathered at the meeting.
As I listened to the group of folks talking about their community, I witnessed an excitement about the future that quite honestly surprised me, given the age of the majority of the attendees of the meeting. They were thrilled with the work Eve and her students had been doing, and were contemplating a way that musical story telling could be added to the initiative. While the song I wrote about the area was, in my opinion, a well-written and truthful song, it was based on my own perspectives as an outsider, and I felt uncomfortable sharing it with those gathered. Instead, I suggested that I needed to engage more deeply with them, to hear their stories more completely, and to formulate my own questions about their experiences. Then, perhaps, I could write a song, or songs, that reflected what they wanted told--a song that would be a true reflection of the community.
They agreed and for the next several months I met with folks at the museum, at their homes, at their places of work, and just became the best sponge I could be. I visited the West Virginia and Regional History Center at the West Virginia University Library and pored over any documents I could find on some of the things of which they spoke.
While some of what I was hearing about the days leading up to the creation of Arthurdale and the application process to determine who would be selected to go seemed far-fetched, it was borne out by the information I found in the library.
Better informed, I then set about putting their stories into a lyrical format, and setting that to music.
SongsPoor Folk Ready for a Better Day
Come All You Young Miners
Ballad of Scotts Run