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The Legend Lady
When Charlotte Ross was a child growing up in the north Georgia mountains, her great granddaddy called her Charley and dressed her in overalls. He had no sons and no grandsons, and “he didnt have any sons-in-law that he wanted to discuss the world with,” she says.
Blind for years, talk was all her great granddaddy had. Charlies job was to listen and to learn. She became his little tape recorder. “In the mornings he would take me out on the porch of the farmhouse then raise his cane and point.”
“He knew what was out there. He would make me name the mountains and tell the Indian legends about that mountain, name the rivers that flowed down the mountain, what creeks flowed into that mountain, what people lived on those mountains. There were fourteen mountains. It would take an hour sometimes to go around the porches that wrapped around three sides of the house.”
Thus began the oral education of Charlotte Ross. Today, she has collected some 3500 stories and is a master storyteller and folklorist specializing in Appalachian culture. She presents programs and teaches courses and workshops on Appalachian storytelling, history, folklore, vernacular architecture, material culture, Appalachian literature, and Appalachian speech and dialect.
Among the festivals, conferences and universities at which Ross has performed, are the American Folklore Society, the Smithsonian Institution Folklife Festival, Opryland, the Ulster (Ireland) Folklife Festival, the Kellogg Institute, Harvard University, National Institute of Health, and the New University at Ulster (Ireland).
Ross has also been featured on numerous television and radio interviews, such as NPRs ”All Things Considered,” and the BBC in Glasgow. PBS airs broadcasts of an historical play she wrote based on her familys five generations of stories titled “From My Grandmothers Grandmother Unto Me.”
Charlotte T. Ross is a free-lance folklorist specializing in Appalachian regional culture and an adjunct professor in the Communications Department at Appalachian State University. In Rosss varied professional career, she has been the director of the Appalachian Regional Collection at Appalachian State University, assistant director of the Center of Excellence in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University, President of the Council on Appalachian Women, chairperson of the Appalachian Studies Conference, and program associate and acting director of the North Carolina Humanities Council. Ross received her Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught English, Folklore, Appalachian studies, history and speech at five campuses within the Appalachian region and has made more than 4,000 presentations on Appalachian topics.
Programs offered by Charlotte Ross
“The Ethnic Mix on the Appalachian Frontier”
“The Ballad Novels of Sharyn McCrumb”
“Myths, Legends, and Sacred Places of the Cherokee”
“The Role of the Chestnut in Appalachian Life”
“The Social Function of Narrative in Appalachian Society”
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