Brighten your day with this wonderful video of “Keep on the Sunny Side” recorded especially for the Folk School audience by The Pressley Girls. But first, a quick note:
Hello from The Pressley Girls,
Even though most of our gigs for the spring and summer have been cancelled we’ve been making music a lot! We’ve enjoyed sitting around the house learning new tunes and songs and spending time with our family. We’re wishing you peace and good health during this crazy time and we can’t wait to be back at the Folk School doing Morningsong and visiting with the students.
– Corie & Katie
Last Friday, the Pressley Girls hosted our first ever virtual Morningsong on Facebook Live. Morningsong, a Danish custom of singing, folklore, and camaraderie, is how we start class days at the Folk School. Before breakfast, from 7:45 to 8:15, folks congregate in the Community Room to listen to music, stories, and jokes. All are encouraged to sing along. During a typical week, every morningsong is hosted by a different musician or group.
The Pressley Girls regularly host morningsong, so this was a real treat for them to bring morningsong to us virtually. Enjoy the recording of the live video on Facebook here. What a wonderful way to start the day. Thank you, Pressley Girls!
About the Song
Keep on the Sunny Side is a popular American song originally written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn with music by J. Howard Entwisle. According to Wikipedia, in 1899 Ada Blenkhorn was inspired to write song by a phrase used by her nephew. Blenkhorn’s nephew was disabled and always wanted his wheelchair pushed down “the sunny side” of the street.
The Carter Family learned of the song from A. P. Carter’s uncle who was a music teacher, and they recorded the song in Camden, New Jersey in 1928. “Keep on the Sunny Side” became their theme song on the radio in later years. A.P. Carter’s tombstone has a gold record of the song embedded in it.
Playing Morningsong in the Community Room
About The Pressley Girls
Twin sisters, Katie and Corie Pressley, were born and raised in the Appalachian mountain community of Brasstown, North Carolina. They are affectionately called Chatter and Chitter on their mother’s popular Appalachian blog Blind Pig & the Acorn.
The girls enjoyed a musical influence literally from their arrival home from the hospital. Jerry Wilson, their grandfather, who they call Pap, was a musical legend in their neck of the woods.
Jerry performed for many years as part of The Wilson Brothers. The duo performed gospel music in the polished high harmonies of the classic brother duet style. They performed at churches, festivals, homecomings, and benefits throughout the south. Over the years they won many awards including the 1998 North Carolina Heritage Award. They were also featured in publications such as “The Old-Time Herald”.
The girls often tell the story of laying in their bedroom floor with ears pressed tightly to the floor to hear the sounds of music flowing up from the basement as Pap and his band practiced. Katie says “Mama would make us go to bed but as soon as the lights were out we’d sneak from the covers, lay in the floor, and let the music lull us to sleep.”
The Pressley Girls began singing in church with other children and gradually began to sing alone with Pap accompanying them on guitar. At about the same time, Corie and Katie joined the John C. Campbell Folk School Clogging Team.
Staying with the JCCFS Cloggers for over seven years, the girls then joined up with the Kudzu Kickers Clogging Team. Becoming proficient in the traditional Appalachian Dance Style seemed to help solidify the girls rhythm for music.
The family band evolved into Pap, Paul (Pap’s youngest son and the girls’ uncle), Tipper (Pap’s only daughter and the girls’ mother), Ben and Mark (sons of Pap’s oldest son Steve and cousins of the girls’), and Corie and Katie.
In the beginning, the twins could hardly be tied down to sing a song or two with the group before they ran off to play. But as time passed, each girl picked up her own instrument and learned the art of singing harmony from Pap and Paul.
These days, The Pressley Girls, Paul, and Tipper are making the music they were raised on and ensuring the tradition of Appalachian music is continued.
Cory Marie Podielski is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and writer for the John C. Campbell Folk School. She has been writing for the Folk School Blog since 2012 and enjoys interviewing artists, musicians, and craftspeople. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the banjo, dancing, printmaking, playing in clay, and assisting in Folk School bread baking classes. podielski.com