Sheila Adams has been performing Appalachian ballads and telling stories for over twenty years. A native of Madison County, North Carolina, she was introduced to the tale-telling tradition by her great-aunt ‘Granny,’ well-known balladeer Dellie Chandler Norton. This collection of Adams’s stories provides a rare portrait of a distinctive mountain community and charts the development of an artist’s unique voice. The tales range from stories of heroic, sometimes fierce, mountain settlers to the comic adventures of local drifters and tricksters, from magical childhood encounters to adult rites of passage. We meet Bertha and the snake handlers, local preacher Manassey Fender (who ’looked like a pencil with a burr haircut, in a suit’), and Adams’s beloved grandfather Breaddaddy, who taught her about life and death with an enchanting graveyard dance. But perhaps the most powerful character depicted here is ‘Granny,’ whom Adams calls ’the most exciting person I have ever known and the best teacher I would ever have.’ By weaving these remembrances into her stories, Adams both preserves and extends a rich artistic heritage.