Raising Cane

Raising Cane


We are five women who sing haunting a cappella appalachian harmonies, shape-note songs, appalachian and celtic folksongs and original songs accompanied by guitar, fiddle, and percussion. We also feature old-time, celtic, and New England fiddling and Irish and French-Canadian step-dancing.


We're Raising Cane, because, well, we raise cane--sorghum that is--to make sweet molasses. One day in the cane field two of us were singing together and by the end of the afternoon we'd come up with "Watauga County," a version of John Prine's "Paradise" with original lyrics that speak to the particular issues of our home county in the northwestern mountains of North Carolina. We knew we were on to something. So we came to be--five women with a love of harmony singing, traditional music, hard work, and community. For us, molasses making and music making go hand in hand; both bring a community together to preserve tradtions, culture and history.
Our harmony singing is influenced by the singing of Hazel Dickens, Alice Gerard, Ginny Hawker, Jean Ritchie and many friends. Our fiddle and dance tunes are inspired by wonderful musicians and friends from all over the world as well as by the vast traditions of appalachian and celtic fiddling that stretch back centuries.
We perform at events which we believe support community mindedness, including: a celebration of the Community Gardens, a benefit for the International Day of Peace at the Boone Saloon, a fundraiser for Appalachian Voices, the Solar Christmas Tree lighting party at the Boone Saloon, and local dances.
Blacken has performed as a step-dancer with Matapat, Le Vent du Nord and Natalie MacMaster in the US and Canada. She has led workshops in shape-note singing, appalachian harmony singing, Irish and French-Canadian step-dancing at the Downeast Country Dance Festival in Maine and a shape-note singing workshop at Appalachian State University. We also offer workshops in beginning and intermediate old-time fiddle.
Blacken completed her thesis in Religion on Singing in the Primitive Baptist Church, Shape-Note singing and the Formation of Indivdual and Community Identity in the Northwestern Mountains of North Carolina. Pepper is currently teaching at ASU and pursuing a Masters in Appalachian Studies. Braun-Ferris is studying for a Masters in Expressive Arts Therapy and Howell is pursuing a degree in Music Therapy. Hyatt combines her musical talent with a strong belief in sustainable agriculture and travel. Her interest in the musical traditions and folkways of the communities in which she has lived brings a richness to the group. Music is central to all of our lives; it is something we learn from as we share it.


We recently recorded our first CD.

Set List

A typical set includes a cappella harmony singing from the shape-note and apalachian ballad traditions, fiddle and guitar numbers from the appalchian old-time and celtic genres, and a few original songs with fiddle, guitar, and percussion, including Irish and French-Canadian step-dancing.
Our songs include: The Cuckoo, The Vineyard, Unison in Harmony, Watauga County, Forsaken Lover, Idumea, Millbrook, Step by Step, The Moon Outside my Window, I Wanna Sing, Broomfield Hill. . .
Tunes: Julia Delaney's, Frank's Reel, Salvation Reel, Reconcilitaion, Banish Misfortune. . .
We usually do one set an hour in length.