Sheila Kay Adams and Marc Pruett Receive NC Heritage Awards //

Sheila Kay Adams, a seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician from Sodom Laurel in Madison County, and Marc Pruett, renowned banjo player, songwriter and co-founder of the popular bluegrass band, Balsam Range from Canton in Haywood County, will be honored with a North Carolina Heritage Award on May 25 in Raleigh.

The ceremony, which also includes performances by Sheila Kay Adams and Balsam Range, starts at 8 p.m. at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.

The North Carolina Heritage Award is one of the Arts Council’s most popular public programs and celebrates the lifelong contributions of North Carolina artists to our state’s cultural heritage. This is the 27th anniversary of the program. Previous recipients of the award include Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Etta Baker and Bishop Faircloth Barnes, among others.

The western North Carolina recipients join six other North Carolinians who will receive the award including musician Maceo Parker from Lenoir County; Montagnard Dega weavers H Ju Nie and H Ngach Rahlan from Guilford County; and the Lewis Family, traditional boat builders from Carteret County.

Sheila Kay Adams

Sheila Kay Adams traces her balladry roots back seven generations to her Scots-Irish forebears who made the mountains of Madison County their home in the mid-1700s. The highly musical families of the county’s Sodom community — the Nortons, Chandlers, Wallins, Ramseys, and Rays — have made Sodom famous for its music, particularly for ballad singing.

Adams, who absorbed the songs of her great-aunt “Granny Dell,” Dellie Norton Chandler and Doug Wallin, both are previous Heritage Award recipients.

“As we get older, we return to that which is real. And what was real for me was a bunch of wonderful, fabulously talented family members that took the time with a youn’un that was her father’s active child and sat me down and taught me a whole world of stuff — stories and songs — and gave me a view of the world that I would have never had otherwise,” said Sheila Kay Adams in an interview with the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 2013 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship.

Marc Pruett

Renowned banjo player, songwriter and Haywood County native Marc Reagan Pruett makes a life for himself and his family that reflects a commitment to his mountain region, its music and its people.

He has a deep reverence for traditional mountain music. His mastery of the five string banjo is second to none and propelled him to appear on many nationally released albums and on a large volume of regional releases. A prolific songwriter, both solo and with numerous partners, has taken his music to the top of the bluegrass charts. Now performing with Balsam Range, a North Carolina bluegrass group of enormous range and even larger popularity, Marc Pruett’s devotion to the mountain culture of his home reaches a world-wide audience.

“To me the best part about Marc is his ability to make the other people in the band sound better,” said music icon Ricky Skaggs. “He’s always driving the rhythm and encouraging the other players. With a kind, gentle spirit he walks up to total strangers and sticks out his hand. He loves people, and they love him back.”

Marc requested—and received—his first banjo at age 11 after hearing Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs on the radio. He mastered his instrument’s five strings by watching and listening to local pickers at jam sessions, and honed his craft over years of practice and performances, playing his first professional gig at age 15. After college at Western Carolina University, Marc performed with Bill Monroe’s son James, then met and recorded with bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs.

General information about the N.C. Heritage Awards

Eight North Carolina artists will receive the North Carolina Heritage Award for their outstanding contributions to our state’s cultural heritage in an awards ceremony and concert scheduled Wednesday, May 25 in Raleigh.

The 2016 North Carolina Heritage Award recipients are Maceo Parker, internationally-recognized funk, jazz and rhythm and blues musician (Kinston, Lenoir County); Sheila Kay Adams, a seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician (Sodom Laurel, Madison County); Montagnard Dega weavers H Jue Nie and H Ngach Rahlan, who brought their mastery of spinning, dying and weaving from the highlands of Vietnam (Greensboro, Guilford County); Houston, James and Jamie Lewis, fourth generation boat builders from the Harkers Island tradition (Harkers Island, Carteret County); and Marc Pruett, renowned banjo player.

More than 120 traditional artists have been honored in the last 26 years.

Details for the Ceremony & Performance

North Carolina Heritage Award Ceremony
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 8 p.m.
Get Your Tickets Now!
(919) 664-8302 or 
General Public Ticket Price: $25
Group tickets of 10 or more $20 each

Note: If your organization purchases 10 or more tickets the N.C. Arts Council will donate a copy of the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina OR Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina for a giveaway to your group.