8th Generation Ballad Singer
Donna Ray Norton is an 8th generation Ballad Singer from the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. She is from a community that is very well known for its rich heritage and musical community, called Sodom Laurel. It's known as a "Nest of Singing Birds" and got it's name from the famous folklorist Cecil Sharp. Donna Ray's family is a direct lineage from the folks who Cecil Sharp recorded singing the old love songs when he came through Western North Carolina over 100 years ago. Her maternal grandfather was a very well known fiddle player around the country, Byard Ray. Her paternal grandfather was also a musician who played the banjo, tune bow, and the paper bag, Morris Norton. Her mother is ballad singer Lena Jean Ray, who attended college in NYC during the Folk Music Revival. She is the 2nd cousin of renowned ballad singer, storyteller, and musician, Sheila Kay Adams.