Sheila Kay Adams comes from a small mountain community in western North Carolina. For seven generations her family has maintained the tradition of passing down the English, Scottish, and Irish ballads that came over with her ancestors in the late 1700’s. Sheila learned these ballads from her relatives, primarily from her great-aunt, Dellie Chandler Norton.

After seventeen years in the North Carolina Public School System, Shelia Kay made the decision to pursue a career sharing the music, stories, and heritage of her culture.

In performance, Sheila sings the traditional Appalachian ballads in the same style in which they were handed down to her, She sounds remarkably like her older kinspeople - the same intensity, the same profound feeling for the ballad.

She is also well known for her award winning accomplishments on the 5-string banjo. Sheila plays a clean, drop-thumb style, called "clawhammer" and has taught at numerous music camps throughout the country. She has recorded several instrumental tapes which feature traditional fiddle tunes from the Civil War era.

Adams' talent even caught the attention of Hollywood. She made a musical appearance in the 1992 film Last of the Mohicans, and was a technical advisor and singing coach for the movie Songcatcher.

Shelia Kay has been a featured performer in several documentary films, news articles, magazine articles, and was co-host and co-producer of “Over Home”, a show for Public Radio. Two cassette recordings, "Loving Forward, Loving Back" and "A Spring in the Burton Cove" (both of which contain traditional ballads, banjo tunes and her own compositions) as well as, her story tape, "Don’t Git Above Your Raising", have been reviewed favorably by The Old Time Herald magazine.

Audiences love to hear Sheila tell stories about her childhood and the community in which she grew up. Under the direction of Lee Smith, Sheila compiled several of these stories that were published by the University of North Carolina Press. The book, titled Come Go Home with Me, a collection of short stories drawn from life in Madison County, was a 1997 winner of the North Carolina Historical Society’s award for historical fiction.  Another of her books, My Old True Love, is a novel of love and family in Civil War-era Madison County.

In 1998 Sheila was selected to receive the prestigious North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award in recognition of her valuable contributions to the study of North Carolina folklore.

As her Great-Aunt has said, “She may not always know where she’s going, but she sure knows where she comes from...”

(Information taken from Shelia Kay Adams' websites)


Click on the name below for more information about our storytellers.

Sheila Kay Adams ~ Ed 'Moose' Duke ~ Georgette M. Edgerton ~ Jeff Hamilton

Melanie Holles ~ Heather Ross Miller ~ Randy Rayfield ~ Susan Sharples ~ Matt Steed

Sponsors:  Huckabee Family Fund, Bank of Stanly,

Garmon Mechanical Service, REMAX Town & Country - Lee & Mary Burt Allen,

Stanly County Arts Council Grassroots, Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation,

Stanly County Public Library, Stanly County Museum

Pat & Chris Bramlett, Susan & Russ Sharples


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