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Anndrena BelcherIf you missed Anndrena's performance at the Down Home in February, you've got another chance in June:

Anndrena Belcher and The Wildboys

Appearing at: Down Home Music Club, April 13th, 8pm Showtime!

Focus on Songwriting: Anndrena presents her ORIGINAL SONGS, the WAY SHE SINGS THEM!

Posted Mon May 27 17:49:51 2013 Tags:

Concert Window“Quirky” and “Primitive,” said someone at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.  “A little bit honky-tonky,” said someone else.  “Pure Mountain,” said another. 

Anndrena and the Wild Boys will be playing at the Down Home in Johnson City, Tennessee, on April 13 at 8 pm.  This is a perfect opportunity for those of you living further afield to hear Anndrena's original songs since she will also be streaming the performance via Concert Window.  For a $5 fee, you can enjoy the webcast from any location across the country or around the world.

“Words hang a little edgy, like gold dust in the middle of the dark, back room.”

Posted Thu Mar 28 14:53:41 2013 Tags:
Anndrena with kids
Anndrena with The Rose on her Head (Rose signed by Billy Joe Shaver!)

Anndrena Belcher and The Wildboys at Down Home
February 16th, 8pm show
$12 at door

Anndrena BelcherAnndrena celebrates a life lived "in the crux of contradiction." Her songs and tales chronicle her family's 1950s migration out from the eastern Kentucky colafields into inner city, Uptown, Chicago, and her experiences living and travelling back and forth between the two worlds on what gets named as "the Hillbilly Highway." She is a veteran of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and has travelled as far away as New Zealand, telling stories and singing songs. Anndrena has been likened to "..Minnie Pearl with track shoes", "..a rocket powered raconteur", "a Hillbilly Cleopatra," (referring to the Doo dads?). The late Oral Historian and Author, Studs Terkel, called Anndrena Belcher "...a secret national treasure," "Images and Songs...bittersweet. Like a picnic in a thunderstorm," according to one audience member. Funny, because one of the first songs Anndrena wrote is entitled "Picnic in the Rain."

Anndrena is proud and excited to take the stage with Phil Leonard, Roger Rasnake, Brandon Story, and the combination is called, Anndrena Belcher and The Wildboys!
For more information on Anndrena, go to and and to MySpace: anndrena'smusicandstories.  Or call the Down Home at 423-929-9822.

Posted Wed Feb 6 12:12:09 2013 Tags:

Princess WitchSince its online debut this summer, Anndrena Belcher's tale, Princess Witch, has garnered several five star reviews.  Alan Mills gushed:

A young woman off on an adventure through the woods--a classic set up, dating back to little red riding hood, and probably Greek mythology. In the Princess Witch, Ms. Belcher, takes this classic set up, weaves in aspects of adventure and the paranormal, all packaged with her usual prowess as a story teller. A creative take on a classic story of growth and adventure.

One final word. Ms. Belcher's roots as an oral story teller come through loud and clear in this written work. Like the best stories, it reads like it was meant to be read aloud. This means it reads really smoothly. It also makes this a perfect book for a parent to read aloud to (or with) a was literally meant to be read aloud.

But don't make the mistake of pigeonholing The Princess Witch as for kids. It is not. It is fully engaging for the adult reader too.

You can read Anndrena's story for only 99 cents using your kindle, phone, or computer, downloading instantly so there's no need to wait.  If you'd like to see more of Anndrena's stories reach a wider audience, consider donating to our Patron Fund to help Anndrena's masterpieces see the light of day.

Posted Wed Oct 24 22:34:48 2012 Tags:

Roger WilliamsOne of CREC's oldest programs was to help thirteen life-learners attain degrees through University Without Walls.  One of our graduates --- Mary Herr --- wrote to share her experiences:

In May 1974, I was accepted into the University Without Walls degree program through Roger Williams College in Providence , RI .  Joyce Dukes and I were a couple of the first students to get our degrees through CREC.   The focus of my course of study was to develop a training manual for paralegals and/or legal assistants.    The culmination of my study was writing a training manual entitled Guidelines for Training Legal Assistants. 
I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Education and Business Administration on January 25, 1975 from Roger Williams College .  I didn’t realize it at the time but this degree later opened many doors for me for future jobs. Without the degree, I would have been ineligible for several employment opportunities.  Even though I had much of the knowledge before, the diploma saying I had a Bachelor of Arts degree gave me credibility.  
I am currently retired but still involved in volunteer work in Cherokee, North Carolina with several community organizations.  I will always be grateful to CREC and the University Without Walls program for the many doors they opened for me.
Posted Sun Jul 29 00:34:44 2012 Tags:

Anndrena BelcherCenturies ago, artists were often supported by a patron who believed in their past work and wanted to give them the freedom to continue expressing themselves without worrying about financial constraints.  Few of us can afford to be an artist's primary patron today, but 150 backers committing $10 per month can have the same effect.

CREC is launching a Patron Fund in 2012 to allow Anndrena Belcher to continue her work with For Old Times Sake.  Click the donate button at the top or bottom of this post to support projects including:

Classes --- Anndrena will be teaching flatfooting and old time dance calls to young people and families at the Mountain Music School (Mountain Empire Community College, Big Stone Gap, Virginia) on July 25 and 26.  Her classes are right after lunch and are free to the the public.  She will also be teaching students at Dungannon Intermediate School about oral history as a followup to her well-received performance last September.

Performances --- You can catch her performancing as part of Anndrena and The Wildboys, with an upcoming appearance at The Down Home and another at Home Crafts Day Festival on October 20 or 21.

Ridin' Route 23/75 --- This collection of stories, essays, songs and living memory vignettes captures the experience of Appalachian families migrating to Chicago in search of work in the mid to late twentieth century.

Passing It On: Three Generations --- Anndrena curated an art exhibit at the Summit City Lounge and Gallery in Whitesburg, Kentucky, for Women's History Month in March and April, 2012.  She is currently working on making some of the images available as prints.

Oral history --- The big project on the horizon is Stories of Migration, From the Inside Out, which is currently a work in progress.  Anndrena reports "I will continue interviewing Appalachian Migrants who came in to Uptown at the time my family
migrated in (in the 1950s and thereafter).  I hope to transcribe the interviews, write the interviews into a book, and we want to do a documentary film following the same folks OUT of Uptown, as the manufacturing disappeared, and gentrification and Urban Renewal (REMOVAL) took place."

It's easier than ever to support For Old Times Sake.  Just click the donate button and pay with your credit card, paypal account, or bank account.  Or simply send a check with "For Old Times Sake" in the memo line to:

120 Elderspirit Ct
Abingdon, VA 24210

All contributions are 501(c)3 tax-exempt donations.  Thanks in advance for your donation!

Posted Sun Jul 22 00:27:23 2012 Tags:
Story telling assembly

Audience participationStoryteller and folklorist Anndrena Belcher entertained music teacher Cathy Qualls' classes at Powell Valley Primary School last Thursday.

Belcher, who lives in Scott County, enlisted students and teachers to help bring her skits to life.
Belcher calls her presentation of folk tales, personal narrative, poems and original and traditional songs "Anndrena Belcher for Old Time's Sake."

Belcher is a child of the 1950s migration of people from the Appalachian region to northern industrial cities, and her tales reflect her familiarity with two worlds.

"My family migrated from east Kentucky (Pike County) in the 1950s when the coalfields were mechanized," Belcher said in an interview before her presentation at Powell Valley Primary. "Three million people moved out. We wound up in uptown Chicago, which at that time was considered one of the nation's most diverse, multi-ethnic ghetto communities."

Anndrena and child"Out of 90,000 people, 70,000 of us were from Appalachia and the rural Deep South," Belcher said. "It was called 'Hillbilly Heaven.' We were one of the families that came home to these mountains once a month on a weekend."

"A lot of what I ask about is what it means to live in two worlds, and to have the power of a personal story to help define a human experience and give a positive identity," she said. "That's why I do what I do."

Source: Glenn Gannaway, The Post, December 15, 2011.


Dear Anndrena,
Thank you for coming to our class and telling us stories about your upbringing! It really made me think about how alot of people come from the same background, even though it's different countries or areas. It also was a great example of how hardships bring people together. I hope it helped some people realize why it's not okay to judge others. It was very enjoyable.
                        Kayla Miller, Eastside High School.

Posted Fri Dec 23 23:47:06 2011 Tags:
Anndrena Belcher

AssemblyStudents at Powell Valley Primary School in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, helped Anndrena Belcher tell the tale of "The Two Gals" last Thursday.

Anndrena explained: "It is my adaptation from an old folktale found in the Leonard Roberts collection of tales called, Greasybeard: A Tale From the Cumberlands. This story tells of one little girl who goes to fetch a bucket of water. She falls in the well because the bucket is soooo big, and she is Kids storytellingsooo little. She finds a different world at the bottom of the well, and meets a talking log, a talking apple tree, a talking sheep and cow as she explores this new place and finds ways to survive. All kinds of lessons about relationship to environment here!"

Thank you to Music teacher Cathy Quall for sharing her photos.

Posted Wed Dec 14 23:53:02 2011 Tags:

Anndrena Belcher peforming in SelmaCREC, Appalachian Regional Studies Center, Honors Academy, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts recently partnered to fund a For Old Times Sake performance by Anndrena Belcher in Dr. Ruth Derrick's Radford Folklore class.

Dr. Derrick wrote, "I assigned a response log to my students with three questions, and they could choose which question to write on.  Most of them wrote about [Anndrena], and their responses were all very positive. I typed up a few statements, and I thought you would enjoy reading them."

  • Anndrena has talent and passion that is immeasurable

  • She not only breaks the stereotype but help others be proud of their language, heritage and themselves.

  • In my opinion she is a beautifully painted portrait of an Appalachian historian mixed with a highly educated, heritage filled Appalachian activist.

  • Anndrena Belcher is […] a very intelligent, outspoken individual in a country tune.

  • She was walking, talking folklore, and it was definitely an experience to see such a character in person.

  • She preached the importance of valuing where you come from and the culture that makes up who you are as a human. This inspires me to find out different narratives and stories from my own family and culture and share them with others so that they can be passed on through the generations.

  • Anndrena Belcher is a walking wonder. […] She walks with pride in her ancestor’s footsteps and speaks with a passion for her home.

  • Anndrena Belcher is an amazing artist representing the Appalachian region with her folktales and music.

  • When [Anndrena Belcher] came to class, I was blown away at the stories she told us, but more importantly how she told the stories. […] Anndrena is very valuable in the preservation of folklore because of her passion for it.

  • Belcher did so much more than just tell stories and sing songs in her presentation. She showed that oral folklore is a true art form that should be valued and treasured here in Appalachia.

  • Anndrena Belcher demonstrated the beauty of Appalachian folklore and oral tradition in an elegant, funny, and entertaining way. She was able to use storytelling and song to captivate the audience, and sometimes when she was speaking there was a poetic element to her voice.

  • She no doubt has much knowledge of the region, and truly seems to enjoy what she does. That in my opinion is what really makes her a special performer.

  • Anndrena is the most unique and interesting oral presenter I have ever seen.

  • Anndrena Belcher is a prime example of someone who strives and thrives on keeping the folklore and tradition of her region alive.

  • I personally enjoyed her version of Cinderella. Technically, it was the Appalachian Cindrella, however, it way better than the original one by Walt Disney.

  • She displayed the story with such enthusiasm and with a voice, which made it clear that she cared passionately about the subject of folklore.

  • Anndrena Belcher personifies the Appalachian storytelling experience.

The photos in this post are from a different recent performance, this one in Selma Alabama for the Tale Tellin' Festival.  Many thanks to Ann Thomas of ArtsRevive for sharing her photos.

Posted Thu Nov 17 19:20:37 2011 Tags:
Anndrena performs in Alabama
Photo credit: Desiree Taylor.

"When I would hear the word "tale-tellin" it would leave a bad taste in my mouth," wrote Desiree Taylor, staff writer for the Selma Times-Journal.
  However, after enjoying Anndrena Belcher's performance at Byrd Elementary, Taylor changed her tune.  She wrote:

"Belcher reminded us that every person has a downfall, a shortcoming or quirk and beause of that, no one should be singled out for seeming to be different from the norm.  All of our stories are unique and they bind us together."

Anndrena's October performance was part of CREC's For Old Times Sake project.  Her workshops, performances, and teacher in-service programs reintroduce young people to the Appalachian land ethic of environmental stewardship combined with leadership development.

Posted Thu Nov 10 23:20:14 2011 Tags:

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