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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

ETSU's Olson Assists PBS Documentary

Dr. Ted Olson is a faculty member in the Department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.
Dr. Ted Olson is a faculty member in the Department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.

Show to Air from April 9-30, 2009

April 02, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Dr. Ted Olson, a faculty member in the Department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, assisted with the creation of a new Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary television series entitled Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People.

Olson coordinated the effort to issue the film's companion CD. He introduced the filmmakers to a record company interested in producing a CD of authentic Appalachian music-some used on the film's soundtrack and some recorded or licensed exclusively for use on the CD.

Lonesome Records, based in Big Stone Gap, Va., will release the CD, Appalachia: Music from Home. Olson wrote an introductory essay on Appalachian music for the CD insert.

One recording featured on both productions is a selection from an orchestral score composed for the documentary by Johnson City native Kenton Coe.

In addition, Olson assisted the film project during its beginning stages by writing letters of support for fundraising purposes and by participating in early discussions held at ETSU with the filmmakers concerning the thematic scope of the documentary.

The four-part program, narrated by actress Sissy Spacek, will air on PBS every Thursday from April 9-30 at 10 p.m.

Ross Spears, acclaimed documentary filmmaker and Johnson City native, co-wrote and directed the production. Spears also wrote and directed Tell About the South, a three-part series on the history of modern Southern literature, and The Electric Valley, a history of the Tennessee Valley Authority, in addition to Academy Award-nominated To Render a Life, a feature documentary based on the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans.

The PBS history of the people and nature of Appalachia begins with the creation of the mountains eons ago and progresses through time, telling the stories of the inhabitants and exploring one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. The rich cultural aspects of the region and the difficulties arising from the need to preserve the environment are also among the themes investigated.

Further details about Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People are available at www.appalachiafilm.org.

For more information, call Olson at (423) 439-4379 or e-mail olson@etsu.edu.

A! ExtraTopics: Music