Lily May Ledford (Film)

Lily May Ledford

  •  Anne Lewis
  •  1988
  • Color IconColor
  •  28:30
  •  3/4" U-matic video
Film Description
Lily May Ledford was the original “banjo-pickin’girl” and the leader of the Coon Creek Girls, the first all-woman stringband on radio. Pioneers among women performers, they played their own instruments and expanded the repertoire of what was considered acceptable material for women. In this portrait, Lily May talks about growing up in the beautiful Red River Gorge in Kentucky, about how her style developed, and about her experiences breaking into show business. The program intercuts footage of Lily May performing with comments from scholars and musician friends on the conflict between personal and professional fulfillment that existed throughout her career, her struggle for autonomy in the music business, and the role she played in the “commercialization” of mountain folk culture. Lily May received a National Heritage Award for her contributions to country and traditional music shortly before her death in 1985, and this film is a portrait of a musician who deserves a place in the canon for both her technical ability and her singular impact on the genre.

Screenings & Festivals
  • Kentucky Educational Television
  • Blue Ridge Public Television
  • WSWP/Beckley, WV
  • WSJK/Knoxville

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“This documentary is a tribute to her life and career in music ... [It] portrays a strong-willed woman who took advantage of the opportunity to earn a living from her musical talent ... a good documentary.” — Journal of American Folklore
“Pure delight for those interested in the history of commercial country recordings and early radio.” — The Old-Time Herald
“Of great interest to viewers concerned with women and families, folk music, mass media and southern mountain culture.” — Southern Quarterly