Turn-of-the-century musicologist Dr. Lily Penleric (McTeer) heads for Appalachia in a huff after the all-male review board of the East Coast university where she teaches refuses to grant her tenure. She begins teaching at her sister Elna's (Adams) mountain school, harboring a superior attitude toward the rubes she's teaching. She discovers to her amazement that the songs the rustic people sing, dance and live to are barely altered from the time they were brought over from Europe. She rushes to record the native folk music, but meets resistance from local Tom (Quinn) who feels that if the hillbillies have something civilized folk want, they should be payed for it. Excellent performances and visuals throughout.