Residing in Madison County, North Carolina, members of the Wallin Family have for decades been some of the ﬁnest traditional singers in Appalachia; Doug Wallin (1919–2000), one of the ten children of Lee and Berzilla Wallin, is the most widely known. In 1990 Doug received a Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; he was lauded for being “the ﬁnest living singer of unaccompanied British ballads in southern Appalachia.” The performance of such songs is a family tradition. Doug’s great uncle Mitchell and great aunt May Sands contributed twenty-six ballads to Cecil Sharp’s collection between 1916 and 1918. Several family members, including Doug’s mother, Berzilla, cousin Dillard Chandler, and aunt Dellie Norton, appeared in the 1963 documentary ﬁlm The End of an Old Song. These singers—along with Doug’s father, Lee, and uncles Cas Wallin and Lloyd Chandler—were featured on four albums issued between 1963 and 1978. Doug appeared brieﬂy in the aforementioned ﬁlm and was also heard on the albums The End of an Old Song and Crazy About a Song. His brother Jack Wallin (b. 1932) was not in these productions but did appear with Doug on a Smithsonian Folkways compact disc, Family Songs and Stories from the North Carolina Mountains.
Whereas Jack Wallin always accompanied himself when singing, Doug frequently sang a cappella. When Doug did accompany himself, it was with the ﬁddle, using similar embellishments and ornamentations to those he employed in his singing. The broad range of Wallin brothers songs included old ballads (“The House Carpenter”), nineteenth- century popular songs (“After the Ball”), religious songs, old-time ﬁddle tunes, and modern country songs. Doug and Jack also sang some of the comic songs that were their father’s favorites.
In 1989 Doug received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. During the last decade of his life, he and Jack performed at a wide variety of venues.
Cite this Entry
"Wallin Family," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2017, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 28 Jun 2017 <http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=206>
"Wallin Family." (2017) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved June 28, 2017, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia: http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=206