Appalachia Music

On Heaven’s Bright Shore


Big Grandma – Carrie Coleman Elliott Wilson

One of our friends will be teaching a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School this week, but arrived a few days early and needed a place to sleep so he stayed a couple days with us. As we ate supper one night he asked me if there was ever a time that music took a back seat in our lives. He said many of his friends had to put their music on hold for a few years when their children were small. I said “No there’s always been music it never stops.”

The conversation continued and I began to remember all the kids that were around when I was little and how we’d run wild outside while the grownups made music inside and how the littlest kids would end up sprawled over somebody’s shoulder or in the floor asleep. I was drawn back to the conversation as I heard Chitter describing the music influenced memories of her childhood. I was genuinely impressed as I listened to her fond memories. Even though I was there for every one, it was eye opening to hear the stories from her point of view.

One of the good stereotypes that’s often used to describe Appalachians is that every last person can pick and sing. Of course the statement is wrong just like the many derogatory stereotypes are wrong. But if the only family you knew from Appalachia was mine you would indeed believe that everyone can play and sing. Our great love for music goes back through the generations. And I’m doubly blessed because I got a healthy dose of music from Pap’s family and Granny’s family.

I can barely remember Big Grandma, but Pap spent lots of time with her when he was a boy and over the years he told me so many stories about her that I know she had a great influence on his life. Pap said she was one of the best piano players around. Like many mountain musicians she played by ear and Pap said every time he heard someone who could really play the piano he was reminded of her great talent.

I get excited about all the songs we play and sing, from the new stuff like “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” to the old old songs we do. I love them all. But when we do a song that I know has a history in my own family I get doubly excited. For today’s Pickin and Grinnin in the Kitchen spot I’m going to share two videos of the same song. One from way back in 2010 and one from 2017.

“On Heaven’s Bright Shore” was a favorite of Big Grandma’s. I grew up singing it in church and somewhere along the way the girls learned to sing it too. A quick watch of the second video will show you Pap clearly liked the song too.

I hope you enjoyed the videos! I couldn’t resist showing the second one because of Pap’s expressions throughout. You can tell the song and the girls both meant a great deal to him.


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  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 19, 2018 at 7:13 am

    tipper I loved paps expression like you said…he felt every word of our blessings awaiting us…on heavens bright shore.
    thank you for brought tears to my eyes…we are truly blessed and for sure your family was ..with music to share and spread Our Dear Lords Words.
    sending big ladybug hugs
    xoxo have a wonderful week

  • Reply
    March 18, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    I recognize Pap’s expression. We used to call it “gettin happy.” It’s out of fashion these days. It comes with an almost uncontrollable urge to raise your hands toward Heaven’s bright shore and thank God for what you are experiencing. Pap looks at his surroundings and thinks “What have I done to deserve all I see and hear around me?” Two children and twin grandchildren all together singing and playing God’s praises” “Thank You Jesus!”
    That is only a be a touch of what he is experiencing now! Praise The Lord!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    This is the first time I’ve heard this song, but I really like it, especially the harmony. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and all I can play is the radio and the TV. Such talented young ladies and I know you are proud of them.

  • Reply
    Maxine Appleby
    March 18, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Priceless treasure. Your girls, Paul , and especially Pap, were feeling the bright promises of that song. Thank you for sharing . Very moving.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    In the second video, Chatter shore bellows it out. To me, that song made the Pressley Girls, like Chitter usually does. Paul’s playing and Pap’s expressions and your Base keeping time helped make
    the song. …Ken

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    March 18, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    absolutely beautiful job on both videos thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    March 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    My sister, Trina, got me my first guitar and taught me to play it. Whenever she was around or I was around her, there was music. At her house in Maggie Valley, there was always picking and singing and I would join in, filling my heart with music. At home, I was not playing or singing as much. When she passed away, music also dwindled away, but I am finding ways to bring it back into my life. Thanks for telling these stories, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 18, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Beautiful, both singing’s were beautiful….and I sure do miss that sweet smile!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    March 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Wow!…..That will be a glorious day!…..Thank You, Tipper and Family!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    March 18, 2018 at 8:55 am

    I’m living proof that the stereotype doesn’t hold. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket or pick a lick. My great uncles played, my dad plays and my brother is a great singer and guitar player (just ask him!). When we go home, my kids always hope Uncle Eric gets out his “Martin box.”

    Music, though, has always been part of my life, though, and I love it. I’m home alone this weekend and spent all day yesterday listening to Johnny Cash and Doc Watson. It was nice to turn off the grim tv and just listen.

    As I’ve said, always look forward to your music posts on Sunday.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

    There may not be a tear to dim the eye on Heaven’s bright shore, but I’m pretty sure there were tears of joy in Pap’s eyes on that day in 2010, and of another mountain boy or two today.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 18, 2018 at 8:07 am

    What a joyful way to start a Sunday morning, and the blessing of pure bliss is so obvious on Jerry’s face and in his motions.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    aw griff
    March 18, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Well now Tipper, I’ll problee hear that song all day. My wife hasn’t quit humming and singing it since hearing it this morning. She is a pretty good singer.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Priceless video .

  • Reply
    aw griff
    March 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I hadn’t heard anybody sing that in our church in a while. Really enjoyed.

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