In presenting the story of a simple English ballad, McCrumb traces the history of an American family. Lark McCoury, a popular country singer in Tennessee, is searching for a traditional song to record for her new album. The ballad, “The Rowan Stave,” came to the country with her ancestor Malcolm McCoury, an 18th- century Scottish immigrant who fought in the Revolutionary War and then settled in the North Carolina mountains. The story of Lark’s search for the origins of the ballad is interwoven with scenes from the past, as the song passes from one generation to the next before finally reaching her.
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