A character developed by theater student Sarah Colley during the Great Depression, Minnie Pearl earned world renown for her gentle Appalachian satire.
While producing an amateur musical comedy in Baileyton, Alabama, Colley met a mountain woman whose style and talk became the basis for the character, who greeted audiences with the catchphrase, “How-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I’m just so proud to be here!”
The character first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1940, and despite concern that her satire might not be appreciated by country audiences, was embraced as one of their own and became a legend in country entertainment.
Giardina is known worldwide as a novelist specialized in the Appalachian genre. Her books Storming Heaven (1987) and The Unquiet Earth (1992) both take place in the coalfields of Kentucky and West Virginia.
In 2000 Giardina became the first statewide nominee of the Mountain Party, an affiliate of the national Green Party.
The History Alive! program by the West Virginia Humanities Council and sponsored by the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.
Pearl is one of the many available character presentations offered through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program as a means of exploring history by interacting with portrayals of noteworthy historical figures.
Historical characterization is the vehicle for this program. Humanities scholars such as Giardina have carefully researched the writings, speeches, and biographies of the characters they portray and, whenever possible, use their original words.
The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For 40 years it has provided educational programs in the humanities across the state. The program is available to both non-profit and for-profit groups.
The performance will be held at the Bramwell Interpretive Center, 100 Simmons Street, Bramwell, on Friday, September 13, at 6 p.m
For more information, call the National Coal Heritage office at 204-465-3720 or the Bramwell Center at 304-248-8595.