Love her, love Sally Goodin’
Love her, sweet thing Sally Goodin’
A big piece of pie, a big piece of puddin’
Give it all away, to hug Sally Goodin’
Looked on the hill, seen Sally runnin’
Yes my my, sweet thing Sally comin’
Up and down the road , the road all muddy
To hug Sally Goodin, till she can’t stand steady
Upon the hillside, hewin’ on a log
Frogs in the millpond, barking like a dog
Before you hear that rooster crow
Sprinkle little meal before her door
—Queen family version of traditional western North Carolina folk song
Old time music matriarch Mary Jane Queen [born Prince] (1914-2007) grew up in southwestern North Carolina with eight brothers and sisters in a home that was a local hub of musical activity. Family members regularly sang at church and social events in the Caney Fork community in Jackson County. She learned the banjo and absorbed a singing repertoire that included old ballads and story songs sung around the house to accompany everyday work.
“My dad worked in lots of places,” said Queen, “and there’d be a group of men working together, cutting down the harvest in the fall, and they’d ask if my dad could sing and if they could sing he’d learn it from them.”
Her marriage to Claude Queen, a banjo and guitar player, brought together the music and song traditions of two neighboring families. Not surprisingly, they raised a musical family of eight children.
Just a few days before her death this past summer, she was given a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship for a lifetime spent working and preserving Appalachian songs. Mary Jane Queen also received the Mountain Heritage Award, the NC Folk Heritage Award, and the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award.