brown writes his musical
Edward Brown holds his script for his musical “Rednecks.” Brown is also wearing a red bandana similar to one that the miners would have worn. Photo by Ali Barrett

Potomac State College’s activities program manager, Dr. Edward Brown, wrote his own musical “Rednecks” on the history of southern coalminers in West Virginia.

Brown’s idea for the musical all started with a dream he had. This dream led him to writing the main song “Tallahassee.” After a few songs were written, Brown started to create the dialogue for the musical based off of his research.

“I began researching the coal mining history in West Virginia and came upon the Battle of Blair Mountain. I decided that this was the story I wanted to tell,” Brown said.

The Battle of Blair Mountain is known as the largest labor uprising in United States history. Occurring in 1921, the battle involved over 10,000 West Virginia coal miners. They had armed themselves to fight the coal companies and the U.S. Government in hopes of receiving better pay and working conditions.

Brown said he got the idea for the title of the musical from these miners who wore red bandanas around their necks to help identify themselves.

He said the story has inspired him in many ways. While researching, Brown found the percentage of European immigrants and African-Americans who worked in the coal fields to be interesting. “I feel that I now have a duty to tell this story for the men who fought and died for what we today take for granted,” Brown said.

Brown has recently been working with local theatre director Chris McCabe and PSC music professor Dr. Brian Plitnik to act out the songs and scenes to see how it appears on stage. The PSC theater classes helped bring the musical to life.