Sheila Kay Adams – Queen of the Banjo & Storytelling

The legacy of female ballad singers continued into the 1960s as Dellie Norton’s great niece by marriage, Sheila Adams, took an interest in the songs and stories. When growing up, Sheila would take all the old ballad singers to festivals and both learned to sing and to tell stories from those experiences. She has become one of the most widely recognized of the traditional artists from Madison County in the late 1990s and into the 21st century.

She has released several CDs showcasing her award winning accomplishments on the 5-string banjo. Her talent at storytelling led her to another career in writing novels based on her childhood and the community in which she grew up. Come Go Home With Me, was a 1997 winner of the North Carolina Historical Society’s award for historical fiction. My Old True Love ( 2004) is a fictional novel based upon a true family story. It was a finalist for the Southeastern Booksellers Association’s 2004 Book of the Year Award and a finalist for the Appalachian Writers Association’s 2004 Book of the Year Award.

In April, 1998, Sheila was chosen to receive the prestigious North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award in recognition of her valuable contributions to the study of North Carolina folklore. She served as vocal coach in the 2000 movie Songcatcher, a fictional story about collecting the old ballads in the area in the early 1900s.