Appalachian Roots

Carol Ponder
Appalachian Roots

Carol storytelling, holding guitar.

Carol Ponder is that rare artist with a musical talent as great as her educator's gift. Run, do not walk, RUN to hear her perform as powerfully as anyone in her genre could, and run to learn about the powerful ways she can blend learning and art and fun to change the way you think. It has been my privilege to work with her, to share her extraordinary combination of gifts, whenever I can.
In my view, this artist is a national treasure.  

Eric Booth, Teaching Artist, author, and Consultant, Juilliard, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Tanglewood, Senior Advisor to El Sistema USA

APPALACHIAN ROOTS is a one-woman concert of old and new ballads and folk songs in the Southern Mountain Tradition – and stories! – from Jack Tales to new stories created in Ponder’s mountain family tradition.  Her great love is a cappella singing: old traditional songs and ballads, and newer works composed in the old-time traditions.  Carol introduces each song with a little background or a story – all geared to the appropriate ages and stages of her audience.  Ponder accompanies some songs with guitar, autoharp, and spoons. She is herself Appalachian, with a mountain heritage in Western North Carolina going back to the late 1700s. Through music and story, she brings her deep connection with the mountains to each audience.  By performing both old and new songs and stories, she invites her 21st Century audiences, wherever they come from, to keep alive music and storytelling traditions for themselves



*Southern Mountain a cappella traditional ballads*

*Pre-Kindergarten through the most senior of citizens*


APPALACHIAN ROOTS has proven appropriate for audiences of all ages, 
from PreK-12, in higher education, and with the most senior of citizens.

For decades, Carol has collaborated joyfully with educators through arts integration.

On request, the repertoire for each performance can be tailored for specific age ranges, abilities, learning goals, or themes. 



What others say about Carol:

There are virtually no traditional unaccompanied ballad singers left. This is almost an extinct art form. To listen to Carol do an album of unaccompanied's like finding the Grail. 
Dr. Charles K. Wolfe, eminent Folklorist and Musicologist




Ponder has a rich, well-mannered voice that bespeaks both her birth in Asheville, NC and her family's fondness for classical music. The result is just a step lighter and less formal than Odetta...her marvelous voice breathes fresh life into what are mostly old songs.
Grant Alden, The Oxford American 



One of the best ongoing musical programs in town is the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage state spotlight…Tennessee's offering is Carol Ponder, a North Carolina born Nashville resident, who is one of the very few traditional unaccompanied ballad singers in the country. Her rich Appalachian voice wraps around old tunes like "Black Jack Davy" like no one I've ever heard. Listen to her and close your eyes and it could be 1899 or even 1799.
Eric Brace, Nightwatch, The Washington Post



Carol Ponder is an accomplished artist of unusual talent and a voice that transports the listener.  She is a gifted teacher in the arts and education and capable of providing personalized, top-flight professional development for novices and veterans alike. As if this were not enough, Carol is a beautiful person with a generous spirit and one fine sense of humor.  What a package!
 Jane Remer, Author and Consultant in Education through the Arts


Carol Ponder is a dynamic performer who WOWed audiences at the Kennedy Center.  Her skill extends to the classroom and her work with teachers and students.  She is a gifted arts educator.
Barbara Shepherd, The Kennedy Center, Senior Program Director


Carol's Fee:  Negotiable for venue size and type, within professional standard rates.


About the albums:

This music that Carol Ponder sings - so beautifully - defies classification. Calling it "a cappella balladry" is like calling The Mona Lisa "a painting." The songs of Pretty Bird touch something deep within your soul, and take you to a time and a place where you know you have been, and where you long to go again. This music may be the long-lost conduit that transports the spirit to the beginning of song, to that place where music rejoins the universal heart, and Carol Ponder's exquisite and powerful voice is perhaps the perfect vehicle to translate this dying art form. I urge you to put on Pretty Bird, turn off the lights, and just listen. I promise you, regardless of your own origin, you will find part of yourself in these songs. This is one of the most beautiful and important records I have ever had the joy of hearing.
Charlene Blevins, Music Row: Nashville's Music Industry Publication 



(Carol Ponder) is back with a second collection. If anything, she has even more command of her extraordinary voice. She trills and sustains and captivates completely. Program this among your roots musicians and listen to the sparkle.
Robert K. Oermann, Music Row

APPALACHIAN ROOTS – Performance Requirements

Carol's concerts can be performed successfully in almost any space, from individual classrooms and libraries to theaters that seat 1,500 or more.

  • *For all spaces Carol will provide instruments, instrument stands, stool, and music stand. 

  • *Carol will provide sound system, as determined necessary by the artist, for venues holding up to 500 audience members. 

  • *Venues holding more than 500 audience members must supply adequate sound system with one quarter-inch direct connect for guitar and compatibility with the artist’s wireless voice microphone.

  • *In theatrical spaces, simple solo concert area lighting is required. 

  • *For classrooms and similar spaces, ambient light will suffice and no amplification is necessary. However, in larger school spaces (such as lunchrooms or gymnatoriums), amplification may be required at the discretion of the performer, and in most cases will be provided by the performer.

  • *A clear performance space 10’ wide by 8’ deep is needed in these less formal settings.

  • *A private and secure dressing room/warm-up area

  • *Help to carry instruments and sound system, and help in setting up from a knowledgeable technician from the venue

  • *Fresh bottled water


Introductory Video



Praise for My Father's War

"My Father's War engages the heart and mind with humor, beauty, and a deep humanity. It is healing and cathartic for veterans and community members."  Pamela Mumby Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practioner


 "My Father's War has an integrity in which we can honor our veterans and find the healing from war that is too little offered in our culture."  Todd Donatelli Dean at The Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church, Asheville, NC

We donate services to veterans

Please help us to donate performances, workshops, and residencies to Veterans Administration facilities and other veterans organizations. Just go to the website below to make a tax-deductible contribution. 

We sincerely appreciate your support.