Fairer than the Sweetest Flowers

The pressley girls undone in sorrow


It’s been a long time since Chatter and Chitter first learned Ola Belle Reed’s song “Undone In Sorrow” and sung it in the historic Cataloochee Baptist Church. After they learned the song, they continued to sing it and the song is still part of their repertoire today.

I was reminded of that first recording last week when someone commented on the Cataloochee-Cora Lee Mease post. The commenter said her grandmother was raised in Cataloochee AND her grandmother’s family tree connected to the Mease family. So who knows maybe my Cora Lee Mease story could have really happened.

Since that day spent in Cataloochee the girls have grown into young women. They’ve also grown significantly in their musical endeavors. Back then, Chitter hadn’t picked up the fiddle yet; Chatter was very unsure of her guitar playing; and they hadn’t quite mastered their two part harmony.

Here’s a more recent video of the song. I think the addition of Chitter’s fiddle brings the song up a notch.

These days I’m enjoying the girls singing a more polished grown up version of “Undone In Sorrow,” but I’ll always love that first video of them in the church. It was truly a magical experience: a lovely day spent with good friends; the beauty of the mountains; the sweet spirit of the historic church; and the magic of two young girls from Appalachia singing a song of love and longing.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in April of 2014.

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  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 14, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Having seen the Cataloochee posting and seeing and hearing the girls now I can see the musical growth in talent that never ceases to amaze me. They had that “music” within them, and thanks to Jerry Wilson, Paul, you and others who kept encouraging them, and their hard study and practice, they are now professionals of whom we, their public, is so proud! Thanks so much for giving the privilege to “Blind Pig” subscribers/faithful hearers/readers/ to have the opportunity to hear them in these musical presentations. I personally wish them the very best in their continuing college studies and in their pursuit of their “calling,”–for I really believe that their music is a calling and an assignment from God Himself! It is He who endowed them with the talent that has been so lovingly nourished.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 13, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    My daddy and his fellow crew members used to spend a week every summer at Cataloochee performing upkeep on that same church and graveyard where your two fair flowers first sang.
    My daddy had a great job. He spent 9 months out of the year hiking throughout the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and camping there for weeks at a time. And got paid for it!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    November 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Tipper: Those girls have mastered those sad songs and are surely ready for Nashville! BUT you probably prefer that the second segment of my declaration just fades away! Thanks for sharing all their performances!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    p.s. I had a BOOK EVENT in Knoxville, this weekend and sold TWELVE COPIES OF “FIDDLER OF THE MOUNTAINS: ATTUNED TO THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHNNY MULL” to folks from all over the Nation!
    Santa can deliver a copy to whom ever wants it! AND MY BOOK COMES WITH A CD OF UNCLE JOHNNY’S MUSIC FROM THE ’50’s!!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I enjoyed the song very much, great job girls!!

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    November 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Tipper, Looking at that almost holy looking picture of the girls in the white church and listening to some of the gospel songs on your playlist made me think about the church singings of my youth. Do churches where you are have singings anymore? Used to, every two or three months on a Sunday afternoon duets like the girls, trios, and quartets with music or not would get up and sing and the Holy Spirit would move everyone. It was better than a revival for people’s hearts and cheered many for hard weeks coming. One could listen to that music forever. I heard harmonicas, accordions, guitars, jews harps, and even toe tapping for accompaniment, and it was all wonderful to me. I, unfortunately, cannot carry a tune, but I sure love your music. Thank you for the many blessings your family has given me. Jan

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I love the way them beauties roll their eyes and I’m Thankful for Don introducing and having them play in Cataloochee Baptist a few years ago. As far as the Corie Lee Mease story you wrote, I think it’s the best I’ve ever read. Thank you! …Ken

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    November 13, 2016 at 9:26 am

    My grandmother came from a Mayes/Mease Virginia family. When the Mease/Mayes old grandfather came to Jamestown in 1611 the name was evidently pronounced a little like the way we have shifted the word “says” to sound more like “sez”. The old colonial writing from those first years usually writes both spellings with a slash. He was William, a clergyman sent out from England to help minister to the tiny Church of England flock struggling to survive in spite of disease, climate, ignorance of the new environment etc. He doubtless knew John Smith, John Alden, Pocahontas and all those legendary though then living people. The family is well documented in historical and legal documents. Perhaps the Mease Family is aware of all this background, but this song tune is certainly early. Who knows about any family connection. I love the mountain connections that this site allows to be brought forward.

  • Reply
    November 13, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Thankful for the blessings of rain in the mountains and the sweet voices of two young women from Brasstown.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 13, 2016 at 8:25 am

    You remind me of Jim Croce’s song “Time In a Bottle”. I never will get past wishing the kids were home with us even though I wanted to see what they have become. I guess my parents and yours and theirs and so on back through the dimming past were much the same.
    I was thinking of Chitter last night because I was wondering if she played “Ashokan Farewell”. That is the most haunting tune that somehow binds every sorrow one has ever had into a single sadness from lost toys and pets to lost time and opportunity to lost strength and beauty to lost frinds and family.
    Blessings for you each and all.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 13, 2016 at 8:00 am

    My, how the delightful duo have matured as individuals and musicians. It’s a delight to be able to compare and contrast. Now, come spring, you’uns need to head back to Cataloochee for a re-take.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 13, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Oh, those sweet young voices! I remember when you all went to the church in Cataloochee, it seems like so long ago. The girls, and their voices have grown into young women now, beautiful and talented!

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