Addie Prater Graham, born in 1890 in the mountains of western Kentucky, was a masterful traditional singer whose life and repertoire reflect both deep tradition and an era of social change in the Appalachian Mountains. She sang ballads, hymns and songs which trace back to the British Isles, others composed in America, frolic songs and ditties, and religious songs in the Old Regular Baptist tradition. She learned many songs from her mother and many more from neighbors and family, including ballads which trace back to the British Isles, others composed in America, frolic songs and ditties, and religious songs in the Old Regular Baptist tradition. While the Old Baptist belief of her parents forbade the use of musical instruments, she became an accomplished singer in the complex, highly ornamented style of Kentucky's oral tradition.
Addie married Amos Graham, a native of Wolfe County, Kentucky, and had three children. They lived in Breathitt County for many years before settling in Cynthiana, Harrison County, where she and her daughter ran a clothing store for many years. Eventually the family moved to Cynthianolyano, Harrison County, KY, where she died April 1, 1978, on April's Fools Day.
After a lifetime of singing only in the home, Addie performed at a number of music festivals in the 1970’s. She was recorded extensively by her grandson Rich Kirby and by folklorist Barbara (Edwards) Kunkle; they produced her LP recording Been A Long Time Traveling on Appalshop’s June Appal record label. The recording brought her music to the attention of a much wider audience; among the artists who have recorded some of her songs are Mike Seeger, Alice Gerrard, Ginny Hawker, and John McCutcheon. Appalshop re-released her recording, with extensive additional material, in 2008.