Man of Constant Sorrow,
by Dr. Ralph Stanley from
"O Brother Where Art Thou".
A Brief History of the Melungeon people
Melungeon. The word means many things to many people. To the Arabic it means "Cursed Soul." To the French it means " Mixed." To the Scottish and Irish Immigrants to the Appalachian Mountains, it meant not quite white. The World can now know who they are and where they came from, thanks to DNA studies released by Dr. Kevin Jones early in 2002.
We know where they lived in the United states. Thanks to the US census, church records, a chilly thanks a lot to The Walter Plecker Letters, Director of Vital Statistics in Virginia. He attempted to find out information of Newman's ridge people voicing his suspicion of whom they were Also big thanks to the courage of descendants to speak out .
Melungeons now are searching for lost culture. It seems impossible to this descendant for a group of people to live generation after generation without leaving a musical trail. Clues can be found in the instruments, the style of playing, lyric styling and the usage of music in culture.
After generations of denial and for some folks, passing, some Melungeon descendants do not have a clue who their forefathers were, nor who they are.
This site will attempt to connect some dots, urging melungeon and non melungeon ethnomusicologists and family to look closer at the music of the hills and hollows and ridges of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The music you sang as a child with your parents and community matters. Compare it with the ethnic music of Portugul, Turkey, India, the Romanian Gypsies, African and the Afro-American Blues and gospel music.