The Civil War Collections - Artist's Biography

Jim Taylor writes:

I was born and raised in western North Carolina and have lived here most of my life. My older sisters both played piano, so I grew up playing the thing by ear in the lulls between their practices.

Both sides of the family are musical. Mom's parents had a their own ragtime band that played all over the region. Her father was also a singing master in the Shape-note tradition. On Dad's side, his mother had a degree in music from Columbia College, South Carolina. My father has a fine baritone voice, as did his father.

I first became interested in traditional music in the early 1980s when a friend let me borrow some Jean Ritchie albums and mountain dulcimer recordings. Soon afterward, I heard the hammered dulcimer and decided to learn to play it. I put together a kit and started learning tunes. I was in school in Texas at the time and had the opportunity to learn from folks like Russell Cook and Dana Hamilton. Others who influenced my style were Jerry Reed Smith and Malcolm Dalglish.

By 1982 I started building my own hammered dulcimers and selling them. That's how I made my living for the next eight or so years. In 1989 I recorded my first album, Come Before Winter. I followed that with The Falls of Richmond in '91, Little Rose is Gone in '92 and The Bright Sunny South in '94.

I haven't performed for audiences much in the past (I prefer to do recordings instead), but I'm starting to get out a bit more lately. My wife, Sheila Adams (she plays banjo on the recordings), is a nationally known traditional ballad singer, storyteller, banjo player, and author. Sheila has me play dulcimer/banjo duets with her during some of her concerts.

Apart from the music, I'm closing in on a master's degree in American History, reenacting the Civil War every month or so, trying to figure out how to raise two teenage boys, and learning how to play Rugby.

Return to The Civil War Collection, Volume I or The Civil War Collection, Volume II.