Sylvia O'Brien




Sylvia Cottrell O'Brien was born in 1909 in a remote area of Clay County, and lived on the family farm where she was raised. A respected banjo player, Sylvia was 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 played one of Jenes' banjos. She passed away in 2001. Photograph by Michael Keller.