Sheila Kay Adams

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Sheila Kay Adams
Sheila Kay Adams.jpg
Background information
Birth name Sheila Kay Adams
Born (1953-03-18) March 18, 1953 (age 62)
Origin Sodom Laurel, Marshall, North Carolina, U.S.
Genres Traditional, Old-time music, Storytelling
Occupation(s) Musician, Ballad, singer-songwriter, Storyteller
Instruments Vocals, banjo, guitar
Years active 1970-present
Associated acts Jim Taylor

Sheila Kay Adams is an American storyteller, author and musician from the Sodom Laurel community in Madison County, North Carolina.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2013, Adams was one of nine individuals to receive a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.[1]

Adams is also a 1998 recipient of the Brown Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society, in recognition of her valuable contributions to the study of North Carolina folk traditions.[2]

Heritage and performance[edit]

The product of seven generations of Western North Carolina, southern Appalachian mountain storytellers and ballad singers, Adams learned the English, Scottish and Irish ballads her ancestors brought over to America in the 1700s, playing them as she learned them while also innovating other tunes with her signature drop-thumb style clawhammer skills on the five-string banjo, an ability which has won her recognition and awards,[3] featured along with Adams' extensive knowledge of balladry in National Public Radio's The Thistle & Shamrock program with Fiona Ritchie.[4]

Sheila Kay Adams at the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace in Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA.

In 1975, Adams graduated from Mars Hill College.[5] In 2003 she was named Alumna of the Year and later received a LifeWorks recognition in appreciation for her shared commitment to service and responsibility, presented at the college's LifeWorks 150 Alumni Celebration in April 2007.

Adams' ballad singing and musical performances have been featured internationally, including the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.[6]

As a storyteller Adams often appears at major festivals including the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.[7]

Adams has been a regular performer with "A Swannanoa Solstice" in Asheville, North Carolina, alongside such artists as Al Petteway, Amy White, and Robin Bullock.[8]

As an author[edit]

In 1995, Adams released her first publication, Come Go Home With Me with the University of North Carolina Press, a semi-autobiographical collection of short stories. The book was praised as "pure mountain magic" by Life Magazine and winner of the 1997 Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award, North Carolina Society of Historians.[9]

Her second publication, the acclaimed novel My Old True Love, released in 2004 with Algonquin Books of Workman Publishing Company,[10] was a finalist for the SIBA Book Award[11] and praised by Kirkus as "Deeply satisfying storytelling propelled by the desires of full-bodied, prickly characters set against a landscape rendered in all its beauty and harshness."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Auclair, Liz. "National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2013 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients". Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ NC Folklore Society. "Brown Hudson Award Winners, complete listing".
  3. ^ Kelley, Saundra Gerrell (2011). Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition. Jefferson: McFarland Publishing. p.5.
  4. ^ Ritchie, Fiona. "The Thistle & Shamrock: Sheila Kay Adams". National Public Radio. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Jones, Loyal (2008). Country Music Humorists and Comedians. University of Illinois Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-252-03369-8. 
  6. ^ Grant, Laura Jean. "Welcome to the Stage". The Cape Breton Post. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sheila Kay Adams, National Storytelling Festival Featured Tellers". International Storytelling Center. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  8. ^ A Swannanoa Solstice at Diana Wortham Theater.
  9. ^ Adams, Sheila (1995). Come Go Home With Me. University of North Carolina Press. p. 136. ISBN 0-8078-4536-1. 
  10. ^ Adams, Sheila Kay (2004). My Old True Love : a novel (1st ed.). Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. ISBN 1565124073. 
  11. ^ "p.7 SEBA Newsletter Apr/May 2005". South Eastern Booksellers Association. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 

External links[edit]