Southern Appalachian Ballad Singing (2023 program)

Eleanor Chen
Workshop Area 3 / 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Depending on class size and comfort, we will learn up to 5 unaccompanied ballads from the tradition. Lyric sheets will be provided. Participants will not be expected to sing solo, and will sing the songs as a group. According to participant interest, we’ll spend time going over topics including but not limited to: ballad history and culture, vocal technique, staying in key, and styling.

Mentored by seventh-generation ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, Eleanor Chen is a ballad singer from Silicon Valley. She has 6 years of classical choir experience and 7 years of contemporary voice lessons, but her first teachers were the old time singers she heard on CDs in her parents’ car. From the time she was seven years old, Eleanor and her family traveled yearly to North Carolina to attend Old Time Week at the Swannanoa Gathering where she started learning Southern Appalachian ballads. In 2022, Eleanor placed 1st in Old Time Singing at the Santa Barbara Fiddler’s Convention with a ballad she learned from Sheila, but for her, being trusted by Sheila to preserve and pass on this tradition is a greater honor than any award she could ever win.