Appalachian Studies Association honors ‘Sepia Tones’ series with e-Appalachia Award

Press release from Great Smoky Mountains Association:

The ‘Sepia Tones’ miniseries is released through the ‘Smoky Mountain Air’ podcast produced by Great Smoky Mountains Association

On Thursday, March 17, Great Smoky Mountains Association’s ongoing podcast miniseries, “Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music,” was recognized with the e-Appalachia Award at the 45th Annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference.

The e-Appalachia Award is given annually in recognition of an outstanding media source that either provides insight on Appalachia and its people or provides a vital community service to Appalachians. Previous years’ honorees include the Appalshop archive, the “Inside Appalachia” radio show and podcast, and the “Looking at Appalachia” photography project.

e-Appalachia Committee Chair Sophia Enríquez praised “Sepia Tones” as “an invaluable step toward more truthful, just, and complete stories of Appalachian music in which we understand Appalachian music history as first and foremost Black music history.”

“Sepia Tones” co-hosts Dr. William Turner and Dr. Ted Olson presented their ongoing project in a session at this year’s ASA Conference, held in Morgantown, West Virginia. Sharing their experiences and playing clips of interviews with musical guests and experts featured in the miniseries, Turner and Olson reflected on how the project has shed light on the many ways that Black musicians have shaped Appalachian music today.

In addition to receiving the e-Appalachia Award for his work in “Sepia Tones,” Dr. Turner was also presented with the Weatherford Award for Best Nonfiction Book for his scholarly memoir, “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns,” published last year by West Virginia University Press.

“It is an honor and a joy to work with Bill on this important topic,” said Olson. “The ASA recognition and our presentation at the conference confirmed for me that the explorations of and conversations about Black Appalachian music begun in ‘Sepia Tones’ should continue into the future.”

“Sepia Tones” is produced by Great Smoky Mountains Association and is funded through the African American Experiences in the Smokies project in collaboration with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is distributed through GSMA’s existing podcast, “Smoky Mountain Air,” which is available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, and most other major streaming services. Forthcoming episodes will feature in-depth interviews with contemporary artists Amythyst Kiah and Dom Flemons.

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