Addie Graham



Addie Prater Graham, a singer of traditional ballads, hymns, and songs from eastern Kentucky, was born before 1900 and grew up in a family and community rich in traditional music. She learned many songs from her mother and many more from neighbors and family, including ballads which trace back to the British Isles, others composed in America, frolic songs and ditties, and religious songs in the Old Regular Baptist tradition. While the Old Baptist belief of her parents forbade the use of musical instruments, she became an accomplished singer in the complex, highly ornamented style of Kentucky’s oral tradition.

Addie married Amos Graham, a native of Wolfe County, Kentucky, and had three children. They lived in Breathitt County for many years before settling in Cynthiana, Harrison County, where she and her daughter ran a clothing store for many years. She passed away in 1977.

After a lifetime of singing only in the home, Addie performed at a number of music festivals in the 1970’s. She was recorded extensively by her grandson Rich Kirby and by folklorist Barbara (Edwards) Kunkle; they produced her LP recording Been A Long Time Traveling on Appalshop’s June Appal record label. The recording brought her music to the attention of a much wider audience; among the artists who have recorded some of her songs are Mike Seeger, Alice Gerrard, Ginny Hawker, and John McCutcheon. Appalshop re-released her recording, with extensive additional material, in 2008.


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