CONTACT:  Lindsey Byars
Concord University                                                                                                                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of Advancement                                                                                                                                       March 20, 2023
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
(304) 384-6312

After 4 p.m.
Cell: 304-887-6312
(leave message)



ATHENS, W.Va. – The culture of Appalachia is a vibrant and important aspect of Southern West Virginia. Concord University will celebrate the Appalachian experience with an event, Appalachia Today, on Tuesday, April 4 at various locations throughout the campus. The event will feature bluegrass music, storytelling, and a panel discussion on substance abuse. The university cafeteria will offer a plate lunch of traditional Appalachian food.

Appalachia Today will begin with bluegrass music on the Subway Sides stage in the Jean and Jerry L. Beasley Student Center at noon and will feature the all-woman bluegrass band, West by Goddess.  Comprised of Susan Spearen, Linda Petry and Becky Whitt from Fayette County, WV, these talented women all come from musical Appalachian families. Their harmony and musical ability capture the spirit of traditional mountain music and they draw the audience in with the songs and melodies of the mountains.

At 2 p.m., Appalachia Today will feature storyteller JoAnn Dadisman, performing traditional West Virginia folklore. JoAnn hails from Preston County and is a retired WVU educator. She realizes through stories we learn about our past and see the similarities we share today.  Her stories will include regional stories from the mountain state of mayhem, murder and mystery. The storytelling performance will take place in the State Room, located on the second floor of the Student Center.

At 4 p.m. in the State Room, Appalachia Today will conclude with a panel discussion led by the Concord University Social Work Department: Reducing Substance Abuse in West Virginia – Standing Strong Together.  This panel—followed by Q and A—will explore statewide and community-based responses to the substance abuse problem present in our state. Panelists will include Dr. Adriana Falco, CU Associate Professor of Psychology; Mary Hoke, Assistant Professor of Social Work; Brandon Whitehouse, Collegiate Recovery Coach and QRT Regional Outreach Coordinator; and Samantha Dinkins, Behavioral Therapist for the Behavioral Health Pavilion of the Two Virginias.

In addition to the three presentations, the Concord University cafeteria will serve an Appalachian lunch. A plate lunch consisting of meat loaf, fried potatoes and onions, brown beans, corn bread and collard greens will be a part of the wide variety of other offerings in the cafeteria that day. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is $8.68 per person.

Appalachia Today is presented by the CU Appalachian Studies Committee and is a part of an academic class, Introduction to Appalachian Studies, taught by Karen Vuranch. All of the events of the day are free and open to the public. For more information about the Appalachia Today event, please email

Storyteller JoAnn Dadisman

JoAnn Dadisman

The all-woman bluegrass band, West by Goddess. Comprised of Susan Spearen, Linda Petry, and Becky Whitt from Fayette County, West Virginia.

West by Goddess


Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679 extension 6086
if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.

The all-woman bluegrass band, West by Goddess. Comprised of Susan Spearen, Linda Petry, and Becky Whitt from Fayette County, West Virginia.