‘Songs of the Coalfield’ Topic for Coal Heritage Lecture Series At Concord University’s Beckley Campus

For Immediate Release: 
Feb 28 2014

CONTACT: Sarah Dalton
Concord University
Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
(304)384-6312, news@concord.edu


BEAVER, W.Va. – The Coal Heritage Lecture Series, an annual program presented by Concord University’s Beckley campus and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority, will present “Songs of the Coalfield” performed by Kate Long.

The lecture will take place on March 4 at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, 300 University Drive, Beaver, W.Va., in room E 10 at 7 p.m. All lectures are free and open to the public. Award winning singer, songwriter, writer, composer, and radio producer, Kate Long will perform songs related to coal mining and Appalachian culture. Long, an Oak Hill, W.Va. native, lives in Charleston and makes her living composing and performing her own work and coaching others to produce verbal art and music that has helped build her community for over 25 years. Her radio programs have aired on “Marketplace” and West Virginia Public Radio. Kate’s song, “Who’ll Watch the Homeplace?” won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Song of the Year.

Each spring, the Coal Heritage Public Lecture Series explores the rich and enduring legacy of coal in the Mountain State. The lecture series will continue on April 1 with Interpretive Ranger Billy Strasser of the National Park Service as he discusses the recent work completed in the town of Nuttalburg in his lecture Nuttalburg: Then and Now. Once a model coal camp owned by Henry Ford, the National Park Service has stabilized the site and created an interpretive trail that is open to visitors.

The series will conclude on May 6 when Gordon Simmons, historian and Marshall University Instructor, explores the culture of resistance in coal miners. “The Miner’s Freedom” considers the history of coal miners and their ability to exert some control in the workforce, despite the autocracy of the coal camps. The public lecture series is a part of an academic class in Appalachian Studies at Concord’s Beckley campus. The class, Coal Culture in West Virginia, is taught in the spring semester by Karen Vuranch.

“The course covers the history and technology of coal mining in West Virginia,” Vuranch stated, “but more importantly it explores the cultural impact on the people of our state.” Students taking the course for credit hear lectures, watch films and participate in field trips that help them better understand the rich history of coal in West Virginia. Community members are also welcome to audit the course, where they attend all sessions without having to complete assignments for a grade.

For more information, contact Concord’s Beckley campus at (304) 256-0270.


James Riley, a student in Concord University’s Public Relations Workshop, assisted in writing this press release. He is from Northfork, W.Va.