The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 3, 2014

‘Songs of the Coalfield’ is topic of Tuesday lecture

The Coal Heritage Lecture Series, an annual program presented by Concord University’s Beckley campus and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority, will present “Songs of the Coalfield” performed by Kate Long. The lecture will take place on March 4 at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, in room E 10 at 7 p.m. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Award winning singer, songwriter, writer, composer, and radio producer, Kate Long will perform songs related to coal mining and Appalachian culture. Kate, an Oak Hill native, lives in Charleston and makes her living composing and performing her own work and coaching others to produce verbal art and music that has helped build her community for over 25 years.

Her radio programs have aired on Marketplace and West Virginia Public Radio. Kate’s song “Who’ll Watch the Homeplace?” won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year.

Each spring, the Coal Heritage Public Lecture Series explores the rich and enduring legacy of coal in the Mountain State. The lecture series will continue on April 1 with Interpretive Ranger Billy Strasser of the National Park Service as he discusses the recent work the New River Gorge National River has completed in the town of Nuttallburg in his lecture “Nuttallburg: Then and Now.” Once a model coal camp owned by Henry Ford, the National Park Service has stabilized the site and created an interpretive trail that is open to visitors.

The series will conclude on May 6 when Gordon Simmons, historian and Marshall University instructor, explores the culture of resistance in coal miners. “The Miner’s Freedom” considers the history of coal miners and their ability to exert some control in the workforce, despite the autocracy of the coal camps.

The public lecture series is a part of an academic class at the Beckley Center of Concord University in the Appalachian Studies Department. The class, Coal Culture in West Virginia, is taught in the spring semester by Karen Vuranch.

“The course covers the history and technology of coal mining in West Virginia,” Vuranch said, “but more importantly it explores the cultural impact on the people of our state.”

Students taking the course for credit hear lectures, watch films and participate in field trips that help them better understand the rich history of coal in West Virginia.

The Beckley Center of Concord University and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority sponsor the Coal Heritage Lecture Series, The lectures take place on the first Tuesdays of March, April and May in the Erma Byrd Higher Education Building on Airport Road in Room E 10 at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Beckley Center of Concord University at 304-256-0270.

(James Riley, a student in Concord University’s Public Relations Workshop assisted in writing this press release. He is from Northfork.)

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