Heritage/History Literature

Book Feature: The Singing Convention

Brenda Kay Ledford, Author

Hayesville poet and author Brenda Kay Ledford’s latest book, The Singing Convention, was written and illustrated for children. A former fourth-grade teacher at Murphy Elementary School in Murphy, Ledford drew upon her own family stories for the book, which tells of a family’s preparations in the 1930s to attend a singing convention, a competition between singing groups and churches. The ones Ledford heard stories about happened at the red brick courthouse in Hayesville. “They competed for the coveted singing banner that was awarded each year to the best group,” says Ledford, “then they held dinner on the grounds under the maple trees on the town square lawn. It was a very popular event and part of the mountain culture.”

Ledford based the story on her father, who grew up in Matheson Cove, and stories he told her about his boyhood years attending the annual singing conventions. “I come from a family of storytellers,” she says. “My uncles and aunts also told stories about growing up in the early 1900s in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Doreyl Ammons Cain’s colorful illustrations fill the pages of the book. “She would illustrate a page and email it to me for suggestions,” says Ledford. “I was just amazed at how talented she was and how much I enjoyed working with her.”

The Singing Convention, April, 2021, children, softcover, $20, by Brenda Kay Ledford, and published by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, Inc., Taylors, SC. Find the book at Chinquapins in Hayesville and Shelton House in Waynesville, and at CSABooks.com.

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