Morgan Sexton

This is a short preview trailer. You can watch the entire film at no charge on the Folkstreams website. Folkstreams is a nonprofit whose mission is to find, preserve, contextualize, and stream documentary films on American folklife.

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Eastern Kentucky's Morgan Sexton cut his first banjo out of the bottom of a lard bucket, and some seventy years later won the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Award for his "amazingly pure and unaffected singing and playing style." In this program, the eighty-year-old Sexton shares his life and music. He recounts how a series of family tragedies forced him to go to work while still a boy and tells of his days gathering crops, logging timber, cutting railroad ties, and of his later work in the coal mines.

Morgan and his nephew Lee Sexton talk about learning music from their elders and each other, and the old days when, after a hard day's work, they would "roll up the rug" to play music and dance with the neighbors. Intercut with these stories are Morgan's renditions of his favorite songs, including "Little Birdie," "Wagner's Lad," "Bonnie Blue Eyes," "London City Where I Did Dwell," and "Beautiful Doll."

  • Film by: Anne Lewis
  • Produced by: Anne Lewis with Buck Maggard
  • Cinematographer: Andrew Garrison
  • Sound: Anne Lewis Johnson
  • Editor: Anne Lewis Johnson
  • Other Credits: Executive Producer, Dee Davis. Archival research Maxine Kenny.
  • Funding: National Endowment for the Arts. Kentucky Arts Council
  • Original Format: 3/4 inch videotape: U-matic
  • © 1991, Appalshop
  • 28mins, Color