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Autoharpist Adam Miller performs at Rowan Public Library

By Wayne Hinshaw

For the Salisbury Post

One of America’s best known autoharp players brought his folk songs and stories to the Rowan Public Library on Tuesday as part of the Cheerwine Concert Series with the Friends of the Library.

Adam Miller performs more than 200 concerts a year using his baritone voice to tell the story of folk music. He says he has sung in more than 2,000 public libraries. His shows always feature him playing guitar and autoharp and wearing his Panama hat.

Miller says that folk songs will die and be forgotten if they aren’t sung. To keep the music alive, he likes to sing for young people. Children, he says, remember everything, and after hearing the music they will go away singing the songs.

Introducing a song, he tells his audience about its origin. For example, the song “Freight Train,” which most people have heard many times, was written by African-American Elizabeth Cotten at age 11. Cotten lived in Chapel Hill. She wrote the song about an old train that she remembered from her childhood.

She died at age 94 in 1987 after receiving a Grammy Award for her contributions to folk music.

Miller is one of the few entertainers who sings a little remembered song called “The Frog Song.” He brings smiles he the faces at his concerts with his many different facial expressions to go with the lyrics.

It was  a big hit with the audience at the library.

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