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Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy

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Volume 3: No. 4, October 2006

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Cover of the October 2006 issue
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The cover image for this issue of Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) juxtaposes two images of the Appalachian region that appear incongruous: a country fiddler in a pastoral setting with a power plant in the background. These images are stylized from photographs of folk musician Henry Reed (1884–1968) who worked at the Appalachian Power plant for many years and could see the plant from the windows of his family home in rural Glen Lyn, Va. Although Reed’s passion was music, one anecdote ― echoed in an article in this issue ― reflects his impassioned response to the stereotype of poverty to which he and other Appalachian residents were subjected. Reed recalls that when Appalachian Power management pressured workers against organizing a union, one official remarked, “Now remember boys, when we came here you didn’t have any shoes on your feet” (1). Indignant, Henry Reed refused the demands of management; although the confrontation cost Reed his job and later his farm, he found a new career with a manufacturing plant and continued to play music at home and at local dances. Reed never made a commercial recording or left the Appalachian region in which he was born, but his talent as a fiddler eventually brought him to the attention of folklorist Alan Jabbour, who is responsible for recording 184 of Reed’s tunes now archived in the Library of Congress and for extending Reed’s influence into the wider folk and instrumental music communities. Jabbour describes not only Reed’s encyclopedic repertoire of tunes but also the variety of genres the music encompasses, “genres that carry with them the flavor of the ballroom as much as the back porch” (1). Jabbour claims that Reed’s repertoire “abandon[s] forever the notion that the Appalachian region was culturally isolated” (1). This issue of PCD highlights this perspective of Appalachia and the continuing issues of cultural identity, history, and myth that characterize this unique region.

Reference

  1. Jabbour A. Henry Reed: his life, influence, and art. In: Fiddle tunes of the old frontier: the Henry Reed Collection. Washington (DC): American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Available from: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/reed/hrpres01.html

Cover artist: Kristen Immoor
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