Shot/Directed/Edited by Paul Ambrose Lieber

Written by Stella Fawn Ragsdale
Composed by Abigail Wasburn
Performed by Stella Fawn Ragsdale and Abigail Wasburn
Directed by Charlotte Brathwaite
Additional performance by Jadele McPherson, Kenita Miller, Kaila Wooten, Connie Petruk

"At night there is a dream.
There is a clean bare house with hardwood floors and a room that leads to other rooms. The sunlight falls in full and consumes the floor. The wood is bracing. It is not only my life but my soul. One door leads home to Tennessee and my childhood memories. The other door leads to Martha’s Vineyard and the dead whale upon the shore. Another leads to Brooklyn. Another to the starry cosmos. Another to the highest level of heaven." -excerpt
Letters from Appalachia are a collection of letters that Stella kept while she was in The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group.  The letters were a way to keep her spirit up in hard times.  The subjects range from her home in Appalachia and New York City to  the cycle of violence and starting a new life.  Abigail and Stella decided to put the letters to music after The Public Theater passed the letters along to Abigail.  Stella's writing and Abigail's sublime music seemed to belong together and they were instant fans of each other's work.  Although they come from very different worlds, a real friendship has evolved from the collaboration.  The letters and music transport the listener to a rural world and captivate the senses.  
Stella Fawn Ragsdale was born and raised in East Tennessee.  She writes about rural America and Appalachia.  Her writing touches upon the poverty, violence and beauty of the South.  She is a 2011 member of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group.  Her plays have received readings at The Public and High Tide Festival in the UK.  Her play Love Letters to a Dictator was featured in the Off - Broadway Summer Shorts Festival at 59E459 Street Theater.  Her play Perish was published by Methuen.  Her interests lie in classical literature ranging from Theocritus to Keats.  Stella also helps manage Windfall Farms just north of the city in the Hudson Valley.  Windfall has been coming to the Union Square Greenmarket since its inception in 1976 and since then, remains at the forefront of the moment against pesticides and chemical fertilizers.  
Abigail Washburn is a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and claw-hammer banjo player whose music is often informed by the marriage of traditional Appalachian and Chinese folk tunes. Abigail’s musical releases and projects range from her string band, Uncle Earl, to her bilingual solo release Song of the Traveling Daughter (2005), to the mind­-bending “chamber roots” sound of the Sparrow Quartet (feat. Béla Fleck, Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee), to Afterquake, her fundraiser CD for Sichuan earthquake victims. The New York Times praised her 2011 release, City of Refuge, written with collaborator Kai Welch, saying the the songs "mingle Appalachia and folk­-pop, with tinges of Asia and Bruce Springsteen."  Her most recent record with her husband, Béla Fleck, won a 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album.  Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Washburn is one of the few foreign artists currently touring China independently and regularly. She completed a month­ long tour (Nov­ Dec 2011) of China's Silk Road supported by grants from the US Embassy, Beijing.  Abigail was named a TED Fellow and gave a talk at the 2012 TED Convention in Long Beach titled “Building US-China Relations…by Banjo”.  In March of 2013, she was commissioned by New York Voices and the NY Public Theater to write and debut a theatrical work titled, Post­ American Girl, which draws from her 17­ year relationship with China and addresses themes of expanding identity, cultural relativism, pilgrimage, the universal appeal of music and opening the heart big enough to fold it all in.

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