Kate Peters Sturgill, “Deep Settled Peace”

After, or even before, I published Sisters in Song, I realized I only saw and covered the tip of the iceberg.  Since then, other fantastic women have come to my attention.  One of them is Kate Peters Sturgill.  I found out about her existence at a Bluegrass church service several months ago.  As always, I keep looking for new hymn-writers and I’m not disappointed.  Friends keep me supplied.

Kate was born and raised in the mountain country near Norton, Wise County, Virginia.  Her father was a foreman on the railroad and her mother came from a long line of singers from Wise County.  She learned to play the organ at age seven and the guitar while a teenager.  She played in a string band with her brothers in 1914 and 1915, then played with other local groups.  During the depression, she worked on a WPA project organizing music programs and teaching guitar.  After our country got out of the depression and the war, she broadcast twice weekly on a local radio station performing religious and sentimental songs.    In the fifties, she helped her cousin, A.P. Carter, collect traditional songs from the local mountains.  She died in 1975, but her talent lives on in an annual festival, the Dock Boggs and Kate Peters Sturgill Festival in Norton Virginia sponsored in part by the University of Virginia at Wise.  “Deep Settled Peace” was written in 1926.  The music is classically Bluegrass, and I find the lyrics more mature than would ordinarily be expected from a woman who was probably in her mid-twenties. Perhaps it was the hard-scrabble life of Appalachia that forced her outlook.  The song can be found in the album “Barefoot Boy With Boots On” and you can also search online to hear it performed.  My sister found a performance by Jody Nelson, a self professed bluegrassman on YouTube.

5 thoughts on “Kate Peters Sturgill, “Deep Settled Peace”

  1. Randy says:

    My family and I went to the Boggs/Peters festival last week. She is our grandmother and it is great to see that her memory still lives on.

    • leslieclay1 says:

      I’m so glad her family found this. I couldn’t determine her birth date. Do you know when she was born? If you have any interesting anecdotes about her, I’d love to know. And do I have permission to use her photo or image in either the blog or a future publication of “Sisters in Song”?

  2. Patty says:

    Kate Sturgill was my step grandmother….the only paternal grandma I ever knew. My sisters and I loved Kate!! She would always play “the Indian song” whenever we would visit! Little Napanee”. Wonderful memories of her and Grand-dad!
    Patty Sturgill Stabile

  3. I’ve been googling the internet for some related information, but haven’t found anything as effective as what you have here.
    I really, need to improve my Tumblr layout. What do you use

    • leslieclay1 says:

      I probably just Googled as well as used Bing. My sources were uvawise.edu/news, folkmusic.com, swvamuseum.org and dockboggsfestival.com. For some reason, several people were interested in this woman, including some of her relatives.

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