“Transmitting culture” is the phrase Jim Magill uses to describe The Swannanoa Gathering. The program’s longtime director is seeing his words take on new meaning as UNC-TV broadcasts one of The Swannanoa Gathering’s star-studded concerts.
“Last summer, the Gathering celebrated its 25th anniversary,” said Magill. “One of the ways Warren Wilson College marked that milestone was by establishing a partnership with UNC-TV. Our first project together was to film the staff concert during contemporary folk week to be aired throughout the state on UNC-TV’s member stations.”
The word “staff” in relation to The Swannanoa Gathering is code for some of the country’s most revered singer-songwriters. Grammy Award winners Janis Ian, Kathy Mattea and Tom Paxton are among the artists taking the stage in the television production. They also teach classes in the Swannanoa Gathering, which is comprised of seven weeklong folk music and dance workshops.
“What don’t I enjoy about The Gathering?” Mattea said in the documentary concert film airing on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel. “The campus is beautiful. The music is wonderful. I think mostly it’s the people who come.”
Janis Ian, who also offers scholarships to Warren Wilson College students through The Pearl Foundation, performs two songs during the broadcast. Ian sings her Grammy Award-winning “At Seventeen,” and she also debuts a new song, “Swannanoa,” during “The Swannanoa Gathering: The 25th Anniversary.”
“My second time at Swannanoa three years ago, I started that song because it seemed like such a natural outgrowth,” Ian recalls in the UNC-TV interview. “I set out for it to be an immensely simple song, something that would feel like it was old.”
Performances were filmed July 27, 2016, in the Kittredge Community Arts Center. Ellis Paul and Tony McManus, Siobhan Quinn and Michael Bowers, Pete Kennedy, Al Petteway and Amy White, Jon Vezner, Don Henry, Cliff Eberhardt and Louise Mosrie, Robin Bullock, Amy Speace, Danny Ellis and Duncan Wickel are also featured artists. In addition to the concert, UNC-TV cameras capture classes and feature interviews with Magill and folk musician Mary Gauthier. Magill and The Swannanoa Gathering founder Doug Orr are also honored with anniversary gifts from the College.
“Our mission is to connect all North Carolinians to each other by telling the wonderful stories of the people, the places, the events of our state,” said Shannon Vickery, director of production at UNC-TV. “I can’t think of a better story to share with all of North Carolina than The Swannanoa Gathering.”
The concert is available through on-demand streaming with PBS Anywhere. It also airs Friday, March 17, at 11 a.m. on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Channel, a new station designed to showcase North Carolina programming. The channel focuses on civic affairs, issues, entertainment and educational programs relevant to North Carolina. It is available on North Carolina .4 HD-TV channels over -the-air, on Time Warner channel 1276 across the state, and on Charter Cable channel 185 in the Asheville area.
“We are so proud to be able to bring stories like The Swannanoa Gathering to people from Murphy to Manteo and beyond. We also strive to be a part of the communities here in North Carolina, and to partner with premiere institutions like Warren Wilson College. Because we know that it is through partnerships like this one where we can really have an impact,” Vickery added.
To watch “The Swannanoa Gathering: The 25th Anniversary” concert, visit http://video.unctv.org/video/2365913587.
To learn more about The Swannanoa Gathering or to register for this summer, visit http://swangathering.com.
For more information about Warren Wilson College, visit http://warren-wilson.edu.