Hedy West

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Hedy West, one of my favorite singers/banjo players.

As a volunteer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, I was in charge of coordinating the performers, making sure they got settled, had what they needed and caught their flights home without much ado.

Some people stood out — some for good reasons and some not so much. But one of the people who stood out the most to me was Hedy West. I mentioned to her how much I enjoyed her banjo playing. She not only continued to chat with me about her music and showed me a particular ‘lick’ she liked, but she took out her little notebook and drew it out for me. It is a little piece of paper that I will always treasure. She is definitely one of the most gracious people I have ever met.

Hedy West was born in Georgia, USA in 1938. Her father was a southern poet and coal mine labor organizer in the 1930s. Her working-class mountain roots were in her voice and ran through everything she sang, highlighting the lives of marginalized blue-collar women including factory workers, servants, and single mothers. Sadly, she died in 2005.

I love all of her songs as you will as well. The melancholy of tune and lyrics of “Roll On Weary River, Roll On” has always had such an affect on me and remains one of my favourites. This is a recording I found on youtube.

Now, I think I will do some research on how to convert music that I have on LPs into digital format.

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