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Americana at Marianna

Sarah Songbird Turkey will play Bryson City June 27. Donated photo Sarah Songbird Turkey will play Bryson City June 27. Donated photo

The Summer Music Series will continue with an evening of old-time and traditional music by Susan Pepper & Sarah Songbird Burkey at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City. 

Together, the duo presents traditional mountain ballads and folk songs as well as sprinkle in traditional-inspired original compositions. This pair delight in sharing a song and storytelling tradition with deep roots and meaning in this region.

Pepper is an authentic tradition-bearer, a cultural broker bridging the gap between generations of musicians past and present. According to Pepper, she sings, “as a way to remember and honor past generations and to draw on the strength of their songs and stories as we travel forward.” 

Her philosophy is that music (melody, rhythm, lyrics) is something that should captivate, inspire and fill people up. With a master’s degree in Appalachian studies, Pepper has worked in many capacities with the Junior Appalachian Musicians program and continues to lead workshops in traditional music, ballad singing and storytelling.

She is also a co-producer and featured performer in the Appalachian music film “The Mountain Minor.”

Burkey’s family has called Appalachia home for over 300 years. She considers herself to be of this land rather than from it. To Sarah Elizabeth, singing comes as naturally as breathing, earning her the name “Songbird” two decades ago, when she began singing the old ballads in public.

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Burkey believes that, “The ballads bond us to those we learned them from. Through that bond, the stories of their lives live on as we tell their stories and sing.” She has worked on 17 albums and sung on numerous film soundtracks

This program is free and open to area residents and visitors. Other performances scheduled for the series include Grannies Mason Jar July 11, Kelli Dodd with “Kelli Sings Dolly” July 25 and Celtic Roads Aug. 8.

For more information, call the library at 828.488.3030 or visit

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