Pretty Fair Miss was created for The Great Fabric Exchange. This year Jeni & Billy are remembering old-time barter days on their tour by trading a three song EP, Pretty Fair Miss, for a piece of fabric. At the end of their tour in November, Jeni will be using the fabric to make a Trip Around the World Quilt at the John C. Campbell Folk School. To learn more about the fabric exchange and how to get a physical copy of this CD, visit

Pretty Fair Miss includes three songs: 

Henry Lee, The Scotland Man, a traditional song. Our version is adapted from several sources including the Dick Justice from the Anthology of American Folk Music and George Landers from High Atmosphere. We’ve added a few of our own lyrical touches too. We recorded Henry Lee, The Scotland Man, in a borrowed cabin in Western NC in December of 2008. We wanted to have that old sound of the Carter Family that was captured when Ralph Peer had them sing into a horn at the Bristol Sessions in 1927. So, I taped together a couple of large cans and we sang through them into two stereo microphones. You can see a video of our process as a special feature on our new CD Longing for Heaven (due out at Easter 2010).

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The Tazewell Beauty Queen, an original song. I wrote this song for my uncle Roy Lee Smith. We released it as part of our Jewell Ridge Coal record and it was number five on the Folk DJ Chart in October of 2008. Uncle Roy Lee was one of the few Smith men that did not become a coal miner. But he did work one summer in the mines in order to get himself a new car, so that he could get dates with all the girls from Jewell Ridge. I thought as long as he had a new car, he should have a beauty queen to go in it.

Pretty Fair Miss, a traditional song. Billy and I often close our live shows with this a capella ballad. I learned this song from ballad singer and banjoist Sheila Kay Adams at the Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week at Mars Hill College in Asheville, NC. Sheila Kay teaches by singing. You listen and learn. She won’t write the song out for you nor will she allow you to write out the song. You just have to put in the time. I taught Pretty Fair Miss to Billy in the car on our way to a duet singing contest at the Laurel Bloomery Fiddler’s Convention. We wrote the final verse to sum things up and give us a nice opportunity to close the song together.