Jenny Scheinman + H. Lee Waters

Jenny Scheinman & H. Lee Waters


Jenny Scheinman + H. Lee Waters "Kannapolis"


Duke Performances commissioned Jenny Scheinman, an acclaimed composer, singer, and violinist, to write an original live score set to 70-year-old archival footage taken by the late North Carolina filmmaker H. Lee Waters. The result was Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait, which had its world premiere on March 20, 2015 at Reynolds Industries Theater, and became a recorded album: Here on Earth. Scheinman and her musical sidemen — Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe — created a soundtrack of new folk songs, fiddle music, and field sounds to accompany Waters’ fascinating footage of the Piedmont in the early ’40s, masterfully stitched together by film director Finn Taylor and film editor Rick LeCompte.

During the ’30s and ’40s, H. Lee Waters made more than 200 films capturing life in the Piedmont, which he called Movies of Local People. The full slate of Waters’ movies — the only such collection from an itinerant American filmmaker of the era — are now housed at Duke’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Scheinman, employs her formidable musical ingenuity to make a stirring new presentation drawing from this rich artifact of American cinema.

This presentation is part of Duke Performances ‘From the Archives’ initiative.

“Scheinman [has] a distinctive vision of American music, suffused with plainspoken beauty and fortified all at once by country, gospel, and melting-pot folk, along with jazz and the blues”

The New York Times

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Photos excerpted from H. Lee Waters’ Movies of Local People

Jenny Scheinman is a violinist, fiddler, singer, and composer. She grew up on a homestead in Northern California, studied at Oberlin Conservatory, graduated with a degree in English literature from UC Berkeley, and has been performing since she was a teenager. She has worked extensively with Bill Frisell, Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Nels Cline, Rodney Crowell, Myra Melford, Robbie Fulks, and Mark Ribot, and has also garnered numerous high-profile arranging credits with Lucinda Williams, Simone Dinnerstein & Tift Merritt, Bono, Lou Reed, and Sean Lennon. She has taken the #1 Rising Star Violinist title in the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll and has been listed as one of their Top Ten Overall Violinists for over a decade. In the spring of 2014 Sony Masterworks released The Littlest Prisoner, her eighth solo album, featuring ten original songs with and without words and the magnificent playing of guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade.


Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman

Jenny Scheinman
Robbie Fulks
Robbie Gjersoe

Robbie Fulks
Robbie Gjersoe

Jenny Scheinman

Robbie Fulks

Finn Taylor

Rick LeCompte

Trevor Jolly

All original footage by H. Lee Waters

Made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; a grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; a grant from New Music USA; a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, Duke University; support from the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University; and a gift from Neil D. Karbank.


  • Washington Post, ‘Kannapolis’: A portrait of a company town before the company threw in the towel
  • Gazette Times, ‘Kannapolis’ marries music, archival film in American portrait at OSU
  • New Music USA, Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait
  • StarNews, Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait sets new music to old NC film footage
  • INDY Week, Violinist Jenny Scheinman turns obscure Tar Heel films into an hour-long musical meditation
  • Duke Chronicle, Duke Performance presents Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait
  • Duke University Libraries, The Library as Artist’s Studio: Where Information Serves Inspiration


H. Lee Waters


Sue Bernstein, Bernstein Arts