Liz Smathers Shaw of Canton, NC, at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival,
Asheville, North Carolina 1974
The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival was started in 1928 in Asheville, North Carolina and claims the title as the earliest folk festival in the United States. It was founded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford of Madison County and it continues to this day.
The nation experienced a revival in folk music that began in the 1960s and brought deserved attention to musicians, singers, and dancers in western North Carolina. It also sparked an interest in mountain music among young people, many of who moved to the area to learn music from the source. Others who were from the area were just beginning their lives in music. Musicians like David Holt, Sheila Kay Adams, and John McCutcheon and Liz Smathers were in the beginnings of their careers and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival was an important venue for them.
Liz Smathers Shaw is a member of the musical Smathers Family of Canton, North Carolina, a heritage that includes her father, Quay Smathers, a shape-note singer and leader, and cousins, Luke and Harold Smathers, had their own very popular swing band. Liz lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband Lynn Shaw and continues to perform and teach fiddle.