Exploring Country Music's Roots


Sunny Staton Mitchell had an epiphany last year while putting together a benefit concert for Folsom’s Johnny Cash Art Trail.

“I thought, ‘This is what I want to be doing,’” says Mitchell, whose new concert, “Poets & Pioneers: The Birth of American Country Music,” debuts this month. “It involved everything I love: music, dance and singing.”

Mitchell has enjoyed a varied career as a ballerina, musical theater performer, arts educator and founder of The Wildwood Roses, a Carter Sisters tribute band. With the success of her Johnny Cash concert last year, she decided to focus on America’s country roots.

“Poets & Pioneers” will make its public debuts on Jan. 12 at Folsom’s Lakeside Church and Jan. 14 at Crest Theatre. The concert is a tribute to the Carter family as well as musicians Jimmie Rodgers, Leslie Riddle, DeFord Bailey, Hank Williams and Kitty Wells—with a special appearance by Lorrie Carter Bennett.

It’s also a Music in Education program for fifth-grade students in underserved schools. Thanks to a grant from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Mitchell will bring a 50-minute version of the educational concert to students in the Sacramento and Folsom Cordova Unified School districts.

“I want to take the amazing music from our history and make it relevant for kids today,” Mitchell says.

For more information, email wildwoodroses@gmail.com.