There is, on the Outer Banks a rich history that is often overlooked. Today at the Wanchese Community Center a small piece of that overlooked history came alive.
Beginning in the 1930s through the 1960s, Frank and Anne Warner, drove from New York almost every year to follow a passion to record as much of the music of rural North Carolina as they could. No one paid them to do it and although there are clues and hints about why they did it, there is nothing conclusive.
What they accomplished was amazing. They gathered well over 1000 recordings, recordings that were donated to the Library of Congress by their sons Frank and Gerret.
After donating the recordings, Frank, a professional musician and Gerret, a filmmaker were approached by the North Carolina Arts Council about creating a film or presentation about the work their parents had done.
Wanchese Premier of “From The Mountains to the Sea
The result is “From The Mountains to the Sea” a remarkable multi-media event that features a slide show filled with the photos the Warners captured as they toured the state, number of the original recordings and Frank narrating and playing some of the songs.
A 1940 recording features Tink Tillett singing and playing a Sears and Roebuck mail-order accordion. Playing it very well, too.
Tink died before the Warners could get back to Wanchese, but Tink’s widow, Eleazar recorded a number of songs for them over the year. There are also recordings of the Mann family singing hymns and religious songs. And children singing songs.
This was the North Carolina premier of the “From The Mountains to the Sea.” What made the premier even more special were the many descendent of the singers who were in the audience.
The Outer Banks Conservationists brought the Warners to the Outer Banks and they worked to make sure the descendents knew about the program. The OBC also set up a scanning site, offering to create a high resolution image of historic photos if the families would bring them to the premier.
“From The Mountains to the Sea” featured much more than the music of the Outer Banks. As an example, the first known recording of “Tom Dooley” was recorded by the Warners. But hearing the voices of the people who lived and worked on the Outer Banks 70 and 80 years ago, and seeing how they fit into the fabric of history, was thrilling.
The Outer Banks is filled with surprises. Surprise yourself and your family with a Brindley Beach vacation this winter.