News/Thoughts

Alice Gerrard

If you are a fan of Alice Gerrard who, along with her duet partner the legendary folksinger, Hazel Dickens, pioneered the emergence of women in bluegrass, you might be interested in this bit of information. Several years ago at the IBMA convention in Raleigh, NC, the AR trade booth was located near an exhibit explaining a film producer’s effort to make a film honoring music pioneer, Alice Gerrard. Since then, we have been following their effort through their various press releases. The most recent press release suggests that the film is now ready for a final push to completion.

Alice Gerrard has enjoyed a career spanning more than 50 years and has made an indelible mark on the history of traditional music. Folks have credited Alice with having compelling, eclectic songwriting skills; powerful, hard-edged vocals; and instrumental mastery on rhythm guitar, banjo, and old-time fiddle.

Her pioneering collaboration with the legendary Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s produced four classic recordings and paved the way for women’s acceptance into the bluegrass music world. Gerrard is credited with influencing scores of young women singers in the intervening years since her and Dickens’ historic duet days. Since that time, Gerrard released four solo albums to wide spread approval. Very recently, Gerrard released Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-1969 on the Free Dirt records label. This recording has found critical acclaim for its intimate peak into previously unheard Hazel and Alice practice tapes.

In 1987, Alice founded The Old-Time Herald and the Old-Time Music Group, a non-profit organization that oversees its publication. Alice served as editor-in-chief of The Old-Time Herald from 1987 until 2003. Alice is a tireless advocate of traditional music and has won numerous honors, including an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award. She was also inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame along with Hazel Dickens.

Alice Gerrard continues to perform, teach and document and inspire the next generation while safeguarding memories from her groundbreaking past. The film is this woman’s story of being traditional, never conventional and is a film about getting older, but never giving up. The film is titled You Gave Me a Song. It offers an intimate portrait of this old-time music pioneer and her remarkable, unpredictable journey in creating and preserving traditional music.

The film follows Gerrard over a span of several years and weaves together footage of living room rehearsals, recording sessions, songwriting, archival work, and performances with photos and rare field recordings. Much of the film is told in Alice’s voice and via interviews with musical collaborators and family members who share the story of Alice and others chasing the high lonesome sound.

This interesting documentary film is produced and directed by Kenny Dalsheimer who is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, and media educator based in Durham, North Carolina. Kenny received his M.A. in Anthropology from Duke University in 1985. He founded The Groove Productions in 1996 when he began producing documentaries and community videos and has been a successful film maker since that time.

As with any non-profit venture, funding for this film project is always an issue and the project leaders are actively promoting the project, fielding inquiries, negotiating music and film licensing, and doing fundraising—alas, the project requires additional funding. .They have a goal to raise $75,000 in 2019. This funding is needed to cover post-production and film finishing expenses and secure licensing fees for photographs, film footage, and music—all of which are imperative to distribution efforts.

The producers are currently seeking film festivals at which they can showcase their film. They have scheduled showings at the 28th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival in Massachusetts at the end of July, 2019; and at the 10th Annual Docutah International Film Festival in southern Utah in early September, 2019.

If you would like to schedule a screening of You Gave Me a Song, the producers would be pleased to have a chance to share the film and Alice’s story with your audience as part of a fund raising event. Contact them at this P/O address: You Gave Me a Song; c/o The Groove Productions, 1607 Hermitage Court, Durham, NC 27707. You can email them at:
info@)alicegerrardfilm.com. The fiscal sponsor for the film is the Southern Documentary Fund (SDF), a 501 (C)(3) non-profit. Should you feel led to be a supporter, all contributions made through SDF are tax-deductible.

For more information about the film project, point your computer browser to:
www.alicegerrardfilm.com. For more information about Alice check out her WEB site at http://www.alicegerrard.com.

By Edward Tutwiler

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