Sylvia O'Brien

Sylvia Cottrell O'Brien was born in 1909 in a remote area of Clay County, and still lives on the family farm where she was raised. A respected banjo player, Sylvia is equally revered for her knowledge of traditional mountain ways and her unassuming and ingratiating personality. Sylvia's brother Jenes Cottrell, who passed away in 1980, was also a popular figure at West Virginia folk music gatherings and was a talented instrument builder. Sylvia still plays one of Jenes' banjos. Photograph by Michael Keller.

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