Appalachia Blog

I Hear Voices


I hear voices telling me its important to preserve the culture and heritage of my people.

Sometimes the voice jumps off the page of a book I’m reading. The “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English” is full of voices: young, old, male, and female, all with the same urgency encouraging me to continue my endeavor so that their memories might live on at least in the language of Appalachia.

Michael Montgomery, the compiler and author of the dictionary, has a voice that echoes in my ear as well. He sends me eloquent emails to aid and encourage my work.

Sometimes the voice comes to me in the hazy murky realm of dreams. One morning last week there was a tall strong man standing by an entry way in one of my dreams. For a moment I thought it was my Uncle Lucky. As I came closer to him he said “You’re getting there, but there’s work yet to be done. You got to keep up your work for Appalachia even if you are tired.” In the quirky way of dreams I never even stopped to talk to the man. I continued on my way out the door thinking to myself “Well that wasn’t Uncle Lucky, but whoever he was he had a mighty powerful thing to say to me.”

Voices come through loud and clear in the old songs I hear—in the songs we play to keep alive.

The Blind Pig and The Acorn is filled with voices encouraging me to continue. If you’re reading this—you are one of the voices I hear.

Oftentimes I hear the voices as I go about my daily life.

Not too long ago I was talking to a banjo instructor at the Folk School. He’s only slightly older than I am and we were joking about how we’re becoming the elders. Our conversation quickly turned serious as we both agreed we had to work hard to pass the language, the music, the culture of Appalachia on to the next generation. It’s our job, just like it was our elders job to ensure our generation was educated about their homeland.

Yes, I hear voices telling me its important to preserve the culture and heritage of my people.


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  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    My mother’s last sibling is not doing well at the moment – she is 96. Thinking about how much she means to me and all the family also comes the realization that when she is gone my generation will be the “oldest”. Yet, inside I feel that I’m still in my twenties (that is, until I have to get up out of the chair!) Just spent a week with another genealogy enthusiast, so head lots of voices. I was blessed to have had great-grandparents that I remember so well.

  • Reply
    Susan Casada
    February 6, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you, Tipper. I’m a Appalachian girl by heart and a Southern girl by birth. I’m always surprised at how alike the two cultures can be when compared with the “Old South” of my youth.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 6, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    I’m back! Since two weeks before Thanksgiving, I’ve been here at the shop. It has rained more this past year than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and still going on. I have not been here this long before, so I’ve burned more wood than you can imagine or shake a stick at. Having a carport near my building, I had two 28 foot racks 4 feet high, plus a bunch of big wheels in between. I’ve bought 4 truck loads besides that, and I’m about spent out.

    Daddy would’ve said, concerning all this rain, that he bet it put all the bullfrog’s eyes out. (I recon because they’re on top of their head.)

    Tipper and Matthew came to check on me the other day and Jim Casada called. They hadn’t seen me on the Bling Pig comment section and were worried. But I had the blooming Flu that lasted all thru December. I’m better now, thank the Good Lord. Ken

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 11:48 am

    I hope you keep your enthusiasm for this great service. It also creates an online community that gives like minded people a sense of belonging.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Beautifully said!

  • Reply
    Jim Keller
    February 6, 2019 at 10:38 am

    In my youth I was not interested in what was here in the mountains but what I could find beyond them. As i grew older my thirst for where i was from began to consume me, that is why I find your post a refreshing point in my routine each day.
    Keep up passing on your knowledge of who we are !

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    February 6, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Keep going! It was about 7 years ago a Navajo friend told me that both her and I were becoming elders. I realized I hadn’t much of anything to deserve that title. I’ve worked hard to change that and you, your family, and this blog has been a big part of that transformation.

    I hear those voices, too. And I feel the comfort when Appalachia is the only thing on my mind. I ha e faith that we have been here and put down deep roots. But, there is also a need to be stubborn and resolute in the face of change that asks us to give up the very things that make us strong.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    February 6, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Oh, Tipper, I am so grateful that you have this mission. It has certainly made a difference in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Reply
    Emily in Austin
    February 6, 2019 at 10:02 am

    You and your family are guiding lights. Thanks for shining so bright!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 9:53 am

    You have a way of bringing back memories to an elder who is 100% Appalachian. I’m no longer exposed to the language and culture I grew up knowing and miss so much. There is hardly a day that your post doesn’t remind me of a saying or word I haven’t heard in years. I hope you continue to hear voices for a long time!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    February 6, 2019 at 9:40 am

    I don’t know how you do all you or when you find time for enough sleep. Grateful!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 6, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Thank you, Tip, for all you do to preserve our way of life. You live with each of your feet in different worlds. Your voices have guided you well, you manage to live in the here and now electronically propelled world and in the past of gardens, farm animals and wood heat.
    You go girl! You are our voice!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 8:31 am

    It’s a calling. Thank you for accepting that call.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I’m so grateful that you listen to those voices and carry on –

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 6, 2019 at 8:01 am

    You remind me of the words of a gospel song.

    “I hear voices far off somewhere calling me,
    Voices of my friends I knew they seem to be.
    When I look around and see,
    there’s no-one so it must be,
    Voices from that far off somewhere calling me.

    Yours is a voice we hear, encouraging us to be both proud and humbled for our heritage.

  • Reply
    Andrea Burch
    February 6, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Tipper, your calling is a labor of love…..those are the very best kind (of callings).
    Your investment will never return void.
    You’ve been entrusted with great and glorious wealth, you are faithful in your “seeding” and we are the joyful benefactors, even those of us who are not Appalachian by birth!
    We, your readers, support you in your calling and we are proud of your hard work.
    We love that you love God
    and your family
    and your culture
    and the people of your culture
    and the land……
    we love that about you!
    We say “well done” good friend,
    Well done.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 6, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Love what you do and hope you will continue for years to come. Thanks so much for all of the memories we seem to put in the back of our brain and only bring out when you remind us.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 6, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Tipper–Those voices calling in the corridors of your mind are ones to be heeded. Although I lack your abundant energy when it comes to proclaiming to mountain gospel of old-time ways and a deeply rooted culture, I at least recognize the importance of passing on a way of live and love for the mountains which must not be allowed to wither on the vine.

    Historians have a wonderful adage which is applicable here: “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Keep reminding us of where we’ve been. It’s an ever unfolding and delightful road map to where we are going.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Dale Drawbond
    February 6, 2019 at 6:10 am

    Keep on passing it on. Educating! Sure enjoy your posts.

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