Frank Proffitt

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Frank Proffitt
Birth name Frank Noah Proffitt
Born June 1, 1913
Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee, USA
Origin Beech Mountain, North Carolina
Died November 24, 1965(1965-11-24) (aged 52)
Genres Folk
Occupations farmer, cultural guardian, infrequent songwriter
Instruments banjo, appalachian dulcimer, guitar
Years active 1930s – 1960s
Labels Folkways Records, Folk Legacy

Frank Proffitt (June 1, 1913 – November 24, 1965) was an Appalachian old time banjoist and performer at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.[1] He was a key figure in inspiring musicians of the 1960s and 1970s to play the banjo. He recorded the ballad "Tom Dooley", learned from his aunt Nancy Prather. Prather learned the song from her mother Edy Adeline (Pardue) Proffitt, who had known both Dula (locally pronounced "Dooley") and Laura Foster. Frank Warner, a folksong collector and a good friend of Frank Proffitt, shared the song with Alan Lomax, who included it in his book, "Folksong U.S.A."

Frank was born in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee and was raised in the Reese area of Watauga County, North Carolina where he worked in a variety of jobs and lived on a farm with his wife and six children. He grew tobacco, worked as a carpenter and in a spark plug factory.[2] He was known for his carpentry skill, Proffitt's fretless banjos and dulcimers were homemade.[2]

In 1937, Frank Proffitt met Frank Warner. Warner was searching out a dulcimer builder and thus began a 30 year friendship and song swapping. The Kingston Trio learned "Tom Dooley" from a recording Frank Warner made of the ballad that he learned from Proffitt, and they were eventually required by court judgement to acknowledge their debt to Proffitt and pay him royalties for the use of the song.[citation needed]


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