Page 17 - Alliance for Dade 2023
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At the ‘ART of
 DADE  Not only was visual art a mainstay, but music was also at the heart
     of the community. While many people may not recognize Norman
     Blake’s name immediately, most certainly know the music from the
     movie O Brother, Where Art Thou! on which Blake performed. Blake
     is a traditional American stringed instrument artist and songwriter.
 If you were lucky enough to be born here, you probably can’t go   As a studio musician for ten years, he toured and recorded with
 far without finding a friend or relative who was part of the Arts   country singer Johnny Cash and continued to play with Cash
 Movement first brought to life in the show formed by artist Fannie   intermittently over the next 30 years. He played on the Bob Dylan
 Mennen, called the Plum Nelly Clothesline Art Show that started in   album Nashville Skyline, then became a member of the house
 the late 1940s. Fannie studied music and art at Peabody College   band on Johnny Cash’s TV show. Kris Kristofferson hired Blake to
 in Nashville and became active as an artist later in life. Artists and   tour with him after one of Cash’s shows and Blake recorded with
 crafters for the show were primarily from Georgia, Tennessee, and   folk singer Joan Baez, appearing on her hit song “The Night They
 Alabama, but once the show was established, artists also came from   Drove Old Dixie Down.” Blake also played dobro on the 1972 album,
 as far as New York, New Jersey, and the West Coast.  Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

 Along with Fannie Mennen, well-known local artist Virginia Dudley   He met Nancy Short, a cellist, in the ’70s. In 1972, Blake recorded
 of the Rising Fawn Enamels studio was also part of the movement.   his first solo album, Home in Sulphur Springs. Soon after his debut,
 Virginia was an enamel and ceramic jewelry artist in addition to   he and Nancy recorded their first album, The Fields of November,
 painting, printing, and photography. She exhibited works all over   with Nancy on hillbilly cello. They married in 1975 and performed
 the country. Frank Baisden, then Chair of the Art Department at the   together for the next 20 years. In 2017, Blake received the
 University of Chattanooga, was another artist who had a studio in   Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass
 New Salem. He was honored with   Music Association, and in 2022, he was inducted into the
 a retrospective in 1978 for 50 years   Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Owensboro, Kentucky.
 of activity in the arts community.
 Charles Counts, still another artist,   Another well-known, and award-winning group is
 operated a pottery and quilting   The Forester Sisters, an American country music
 studio in Rising Fawn for 25 years.   vocal group consisting of sisters Kathy, June,
 He received the Georgia Governor’s   Kim, and Christy Forester. Having performed
 Award in 1973 and served as an   together locally in their native Lookout Mountain,
 advisor to the Georgia Council for   Georgia hometown since the 1970s, the four
 the Arts. Counts worked to preserve the art forms of his native   sisters began singing full-time in the 1980s and
 Appalachia. He promoted the economic benefits of producing   signed to Warner Records Nashville in 1984. Their
 crafts to supplement household income in depressed areas, while   greatest commercial success came between
 safeguarding the dignity of the craftspeople involved. There were   then and 1991, when they charted 15 top-ten
 many other familiar names from the area who participated.   hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs
     chart, five of which went to number one:
 As more and more artists moved to studios in the Rising Fawn area,   “I Fell in Love Again Last Night”, “Just in
 they welcomed other talented artists to visit and exhibit. One of   Case”, “Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes”,
 the most famous visitors was Esther Rolick, one of the few female   “You Again”, and “Too Much Is Not
 avant-garde painters who still has works in major galleries and   Enough”, with The Bellamy Brothers.
 papers that are in the Smithsonian.   They won the Academy of Country
     Music Group of the Year award in 1986
 Thousands of visitors came each year to see the works of artists   and were nominated three times for a
 and crafters. The Plum Nelly Clothesline Art Show flourished for   Grammy Award.
 26 years, at which time it morphed into the New Salem Mountain
 Festival, which is still enjoyed today.  Even though Trenton-Dade is a small
     mountain town, the arts are alive and well
     here through the celebrations of its rich and
     unique heritage.

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