The Paschall Brothers, a stunning Tidewater Gospel Quartet from Chesapeake, Virginia have received the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor that the United States government bestows on traditional artists. They will be celebrated in the Library of Congress this fall.
The VFH Virginia Folklife Program nominated the Paschalls for this award several years ago. There are generally more than 300 names in the hopper for this award. Many artists wait years to receive this honor, and of course many deserving folks never do. Our only regret is that the group’s eldest brother, Frank Paschall Jr., passed away before seeing this honor.
The Paschall Brothers were part of our very first group of Master Artists in the Folklife Apprenticeship Program. They were the subject of the Folklife Program’s very first CD Recording, Songs for our Father, and later the award winning CD On the Right Road Now that we produced for the African American Heritage Series on Smithsonian Folkways Records. We arranged for them to sing (for the first time out of Virginia) at such venues as the Library of Congress, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, and the National Folk Festivals in Lowell, Massachusetts, Bangor, Maine, and Richmond, Virginia.
We should note too that a second 2012 Heritage Fellow, DC-area bluegrass dobro player Mike Auldridge, was also a Virginia Folklife Program nominee. Last year we had a successful nomination for Reverend Frank Newsome, of the Little David Old Regular Baptist Church in Dickenson County. We’ve also had past successful nominations for the late Janette Carter, and several artists throughout the United States.
The Heritage Award Winners will perform at a concert scheduled for Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC.