Kentucky was referred to as a southern border state during the Civil War. It had initially claimed neutrality until a failed attempt by the Confederacy to take the state over. These actions resulted in a political petition from the Kentucky legislature for the support of the Union Army. This recourse created an internecine culture for Kentuckians, pitting families and neighbors against each other, causing Kentucky to become divided.
While researching Appalachian music for the writing of “Where My Heart Wanders,” I stumbled upon stories of the Civil War. As the brutal war took hold of the Appalachian region, the northern states were deemed the North, and the southern states were deemed the South. Although individuals may have had different opinions of the war, their duty fell behind state lines. However, if you were a soldier from Kentucky, your duty was defined by your personal measure of the war. This siding with different causes tore families and friends apart. Kentucky became known for kin fighting kin.
This bit of history tugged at my songwriter/storyteller’s heartstrings. What would the promise of a young couple’s love look like if their families chose different sides of the war? Would it be negated by conflict or bound to a promise of return?
The storytelling traditions of Kentucky’s Appalachian region are rich with song, stemming from the traditional Appalachian folk music derived from the ballads of its earliest settlers, the Scottish, Irish, and English.