When photographer Rob Amberg first met Dellie Norton and her adopted son, Junior, in 1975, Norton was seventy-six years old and had lived most of her life in the small mountain community of Sodom Laurel, North Carolina, surrounded by close kin, tobacco fields, and the rugged wilderness of the southern Appalachians. Sodom Laurel Album traces the growing relationship between Norton and Amberg across the next two decades, years marked by the seasons of raising and harvesting food and tobacco and by the gatherings of family and friends for conversation, storytelling, and music. Richly evocative images are interlaced with stories of the people of Sodom Laurel and with Amberg's own candid journals, which reveal his gradually growing understanding of this world he entered as a stranger. The book also includes a CD featuring Dellie Norton, Doug Wallin, and other singers of traditional Appalachian music. Through words, photographs, oral histories, and songs, Sodom Laurel Album tells the moving story of a once-isolated community on the brink of change, the people who live there, and the music that binds them together. Sodom Laurel Album is the companion publication to a traveling exhibition that will open at the Asheville Art Museum in November 2002.
Rob Amberg is an award-winning photographer and writer who does assignment work for nonprofit organizations, foundations, and publications. He lives in Madison County, North Carolina. Dellie Chandler Norton (1898-1993) was a much-loved storyteller and ballad singer whose songs were recorded by Alan Lomax and John Cohen. In 1990, she received a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award.