The Cyclone of Rye Cove and the Immortality of Story and Song

Southern Salon: a podcast about culture & communication

Sep 5 2021 • 26 mins

In 1929 a cyclone ground its way through the tiny rural community of Rye Cove, Virginia, leaving 15 children and a schoolteacher dead after their school was demolished by wind and fire.  The Carter Family later recorded a song about the event titled "The Cyclone of Rye Cove. " In this episode, we discuss what happened on that fateful day, guided by the oral histories of survivors that were collected in 1970 and newspaper accounts. We also imagine A.P. Carter--after witnessing the devastation left by the storm-- writing a song that would become a ballad, a way of retelling the story from generation to generation.


You can find an entire account of the event and the song in Amy's article in Oxford American Magazine (summer, 2021.)
You can hear the Carter Family singing this song at this link.

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