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Bill Rossiter Interview and Performance of My Darling Nelly Gray

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Uploaded on Jul 1, 2011

Folklorist and musician Bill Rossiter on how the content and meaning of folk-songs evolve over time. On request, Bill sings and plays an impromptu version of Nelly Gray, a pre-Civil War anti-slavery song he discusses in the interview.

Bill Rossiter is a Wyoming Humanities Council (WHC) Humanities Forum presenter. For more information about booking Bill through the Humanities Forum, visit our website at www.uwyo.edu/humanities.

My Darling Nelly Gray (Lyrics)
by Benjamin R. Hanby , 1856

There's a low, green, valley on the old Kentucky shore
Where I've whiled many happy hours away,
Just a sitting and a singing by the little cottage door
Where lived my darling Nellie Gray

When the moon had climbed the mountain, and the stars were shining too
Then I'd take my darling Nellie Gray
And we'd go floatin down the river in my little red canoe
While my banjo sweetly I would play

One night I went to see her, but she's gone the neighbors say
And the white man had bound her with his chain
They have taken her to Georgia for to wear her life away
As she toils in the cotton and the cane

Oh, my poor Nellie Gray, they have taken you away
And I'll never see my darling, anymore
I'm sitting by the river and a weeping all the day
For you've gone from the old Kentucky shore

Now my canoe is under water, and my banjo is unstrung
I am tired of living, anymore
My eyes shall be cast downward, and my songs will be unsung
While I stay on the old Kentucky shore

Now I'm getting old and feeble, and I cannot see my way
I can hear someone knocking on my door
I can hear the angels singing, and I see my Nellie Gray
So farewell to the old Kentucky shore

Oh, my darling Nellie Gray, up in heaven, so they say
And they'll never take you from me, anymore
I'm coming, coming, coming, as the angels clear the way
So farewell to the old Kentucky shore

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