Traditional Song Week – July 2-8, 2023



The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges to the safe presentation of in-person gatherings of all types. For next summer, our safety protocols will be guided by the recommendations of the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Buncombe County Health Department and those of Warren Wilson College. We anticipate that these measures will continue to evolve in response to the progress of the virus, but as of this writing:

All participants, including children, must provide documentation, verified with a photo ID, that they are up to date with a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and have gotten the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC. For maximum immunity, please insure that your immunizations are up-to-date at least two weeks before your participation in the 2023 Swannanoa Gathering.

– We recommend that Gathering participants remain on campus throughout the week.

– Other Covid precautions may be imposed in the spring depending on conditions projected for July. Registrants will be notified in advance of additional safety protocols.

– Participants will be updated throughout the spring of any changes or additions to these safety measures.


Traditional Song Week realizes a dream of a comprehensive program completely devoted to traditional styles of singing. Unlike programs where singing takes a back seat to the instrumentalists, it is the main focus of this week, which aims to help restore the power of songs within the larger traditional music scene. Here, finally, is a place where you can develop and grow in confidence about your singing, and have lots of fun with other folks devoted to their own song journeys. Come gather with us to explore various traditional song genres under the guidance of experienced, top-notch instructors. When singers gather together, magical moments are bound to happen!

This year, Traditional Song Week is proud to present a gathering of highly influential singers and musicians who have remained devoted over the years to preserving and promoting traditional song. This year we will include many opportunities for students to perform for an audience. In addition to Friday’s Student Showcase, there will be opportunities to apply what you’ve learned to the delight of other students and staff. Our Community Gathering Time affords us the opportunity to experience together, as a group, diverse topics concerning our shared love of traditional song. The past few years have seen special programs with such national treasures as Jean Ritchie, John Cohen, Charlie Louvin, Fiona Ritchie, David Holt, Josh Goforth, Betty Smith, Dáithí Sproule, Aidan O’Hara, Freddy LaBour, Cathie Ryan, Peter Yarrow, Bobby McMillon, Brian Peters, Tom Paxton, Doug & Darcy Orr, Cathy Jordan, Robin and Linda Williams, Tim O’Brien, Sheila Kay Adams, Beth Magill, Alan Reid, Len Graham, Tony Ellis, Laura Boosinger and others. We will carry on the tradition of gathering three of the five days directly after lunch from 1:15-2:15. This year’s spotlight will feature panels on topics that reflect the styles of our diverse staff. This will include The Carter Family Meets the Copper Family, Sea Songs and Chanteys, and Queer & Feminist Folk Songs Today. This summer will feature classes in both traditional and contemporary gospel, voice technique from a variety of perspectives, sea chanteys, and songs from Ireland and England—including the English Music Hall. You may choose to focus on writing in the tradition, learning duet harmony, singing ballads from the mountains that surround us or from across the ocean,  or expressing yourself through the Native American flute. The week will also feature nightly concerts and singing sessions, with ample opportunity to participate. Bring a friend and come join us for a week you will never forget!