When producing an album of regional music, one needs to understand what that region is. West Georgia, as we at the Center define it, runs from east of Atlanta to the Alabama line, north to Rome, Georgia (the gateway to the North Georgia Mountains) and south to Newnan, Georgia. It sits in the Piedmont of the Appalachian mountain chain and is largely rural.
Gospel music from groups like The Long Sisters, or bluegrass-gospel from the local group the Bluegrass Five, represent regional styles of sacred and gospel traditions with roots as old as the American colonies. Sometimes tragic, like the spiritual songs born in slavery, and often otherworldly, like the Sacred Harp songs that face death so readily, the varied, regional types of songs found on this CD share the outlook that there are better times ahead, perhaps in this life, perhaps in the next.
Many of the songs on this album might be heard anywhere in the Southeast—and throughout America—but the West Georgia musicians have woven them into the folklife and values of their community. These community values give popular songs like “Great Speckled Bird” a new and different meaning than they might have elsewhere.
Click to listen to Sandra Byrd sing, I Wish I Could Have Been There