Betty Smith

"A Mountain Riddle"

...gave the audience a gift from a deep source. Here in our hills a beautiful flower of culture remains in bloom even as it fades away in the larger secular society... As you perform Aunt Jane you revive in us all our remnants of songs and stories that have the power to heal us and fill us with human sweetness; we become filled with the delicate light of grace. I hope you realize that your voice and your spirit are more necessary to us now than ever.
- Gurney Norman, Author of Kinfolks

Betty Smith

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~ A one-act monodrama written and performed by Betty Smith ~

Awarded the Paul Green Multi-Media Award by the North Carolina Historical Society.

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre assisted in the development of "A Mountain Riddle", which was designed as a touring production as part of its mission to celebrate the heritage of the Southern Appalachians.

Betty Smith - Playwright and Actor

C. Robert Jones - Dramaturg and Director

"A Mountain Riddle"

The home of Jane Hicks Gentry in Hot Springs, North Carolina, 1916

Jane Hicks Gentry :
On October 6, 1987 an historical marker was erected by the State of North Carolina in front of a house called Sunnybank in Hot Springs, North Carolina. It reads:

English folklorist Cecil Sharp in 1916 collected ballads in the "Laurel Country." Jane Gentry who supplied many of the songs lived here.

Jane Hicks was born in Watauga County, NC during the Civil War in the year Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. She grew up near her grandfather Council Harmon ("Old Counce") whose descendants have carried on a rich and lively heritage of songs and stories.

Jane was the first of this family to have these oral materials collected and published. She was twelve years old when the family moved to the Meadow Fork section of Spring Creek in Madison County. When she was sixteen years old, Jane married Jasper Newton Gentry. They moved to the town of Hot Springs so that their nine children could attend Dorland Institute, a Presbyterian mission school.

Irving Bacheller, New York newspaper editor and author of books, short stories and magazine articles, met Jane Gentry when he came to Hot Springs on vacation. He wrote about her and called her the "greatest" as well as the "happiest" person he ever met.

Cecil Sharp, English collector, collected more songs from Mrs. Gentry than from any other singer in the southern mountains. He included forty of her songs in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians.

Isabel Gordon Carter published fifteen of Jane Gentry's stories in the Journal of American Folklore.

When Betty Smith performs "A Mountain Riddle" audience members become children in the household of a woman named Jane Gentry. Through song, riddle and monologue the life of this loving woman with a beautiful voice is expertly woven. Jane Gentry was known as a singer among singers, and Betty Smith can well be named the same. Her pure voice and graceful performance leave the audience wanting "just one more story."
- Carolyn Williams, Center for Creative Retirement, UNC Asheville, NC

Booking Inquiries: Email Bluff Mountain Music by clicking email link below or,
Contact - Betty Smith*1444 Bluff Mountain Road* Hot Springs, NC 28743

flasher Enjoy a Celebration of the History and Folklore of Appalachia with Sharyn McCrumb and Betty Smith in "The Ballad Novels". Sharyn, Appalachian novelist and New York Times Best-Selling author, reads from her popular Ballad Novels. Betty sings the ballads and songs that enhance the stories. A delightfully intriguing performance!

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Betty Smith
200 Tabernacle Rd. * G201 * Black Mountain, NC 28711
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