Jack White and traditional/folk music

I am a casual White Stripes fan at best; I have a few of their albums but I don’t know much about the band and their history and only got into them about two or three years ago. I do know that Jack White recorded some Appalachian folk tunes for the Cold Mountain soundtrack, and I also know that the White Stripes themselves have dabbled in traditional music styles (see songs like “Little Ghost” and “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn”).

What I want to know is - why was Jack White chosen for Cold Mountain, and, more broadly, what is his relationship with traditional music? Was he sought out because of his position as a famous musician? Did he express interest himself? Did the White Stripes play folk music before Cold Mountain, or did performing on the Cold Mountain soundtrack spur an interest in traditional music?

I don’t know the behind-the-scenes, but some of the music was what’s called Shape Note music, traditional Appalachian sacred music.

Yeah, I’m quite interested in shape note myself and have been to a few sings - it’s part of why I love that soundtrack so much. Do you sing it?

I wish I could comment more directly, but given Jack White’s noted love of traditional blues, gospel, and country music, it seems likely that he gets down with the Appalachian jams, probably through his interest in country artists such as Dolly Parton (see his cover of “Jolene”) and Loretta Lynne (whose sensational 2004 album Van Lear Rose was produced by White).