by Joy Appleton
Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz have
been singing together only 16 years, their strong, soul-stirring singing
makes you feel their devotion to the place from which their music springs.
As they wrap their songs in stories of the people and the places of the
music, audiences are transported to another time when life was more real
and families were held close. Their harmonies are hair-raising and representative
of the finest American traditional music.
Home for Ginny and Tracy is the small village of Tanner, West Virginia
in the heart of Appalachia. Ginny is a native of Halifax County, Virginia
where she grew up in a large extended family of singers and musicians.
Tracy grew up in New jersey and New England where his strongest memories
are of days spent on the neighbors' farm in southern Vermont. Ginny and
Tracy met in 1988 when both were on staff at the Ashokan Fiddle and Dance
Camp near Woodstock, NY. They soon discovered that, despite their differing
childhoods, they shared a deep understanding of and love for the music
of the rural south. It was Ginny's birthright and Tracy's lifetime devotion.
Ginny's father, Ben Hawker, was her mentor growing up. Together, they
taught the beautiful old singing of his Primitive Baptist Church for ten
years at the Augusta Heritage Workshops in Elkins, WV. He went with her
to the Smithsonian, the Chicago Folk Festival and the Vancouver Folk Festival
where their family harmony left an indelible memory with their listeners.
Ben also introduced her to early Bluegrass harmony through the oral tradition.
Ginny continues to honor his style and grace with her singing and storytelling.
When they met in 1988, Tracy had already spent 26 years as a member of
The New Lost City Ramblers, the traditional stringband responsible for
introducing urban audiences to southern rural music in the 60's and 70's.
He was also deep into Cajun music, playing accordion, fiddle, guitar,
and always singing in such a soulful way that many people worldwide were
drawn to the music he represented so well. The Ramblers have twice been
nominated for a Grammy.
For the past 15 years, Ginny and Tracy have appeared in concerts and festivals
throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Each summer they teach
southern traditional singing at several music camps introducing people
to the music they love. Recently they have started teaching students in
their West Virginia home.
In concert, Ginny and Tracy will cover everything from the beautiful unaccompanied
ballads of the south to early Bluegrass duets to the songs of The Carter
Family. You'll hear fiddle tunes, gospel songs as done in rural families,
even some classic country songs. What their concerts will lack is "fillers."
Every song they do means something special to them and will invite you
to join them in the celebration of your heritage.