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Berea Sound Archives Fellowship Topics

Ajay Kalra / Bowling Green, Kentucky / 2015-2016 / Topic: Lomax Kentucky Web Collection

Ajay Kalra

Project: Ajay Kalra’s Fellowship supported work will be directed toward providing in-depth history and analysis of many of the recordings in the Alan Lomax Kentucky Recordings Collection. His detailed annotation and music analysis will be readily available as part of the entries for individual performances on the Collection’s website.  Ajay is presently in the Graduate Folklife program at Western Kentucky University where he teaches African American and World Music. In addition to his dissertation he has published extensively on the music of the American South in the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and Grove Dictionary of American Music and Musicians. His extensive 2006 Fellowship work profiled the African American performers at Berea’s Celebration of Traditional Music up to that time.


Christopher Miller / Radford, Virginia / 2015-2016 / Topic: Experimental

Christopher MillerProject: Chris’s Fellowship research will draw upon the Lomax Kentucky recordings collection and other Berea traditional music collections as part of his study of Appalachian performance – dance / dance calling, song lyrics, and musical performance. He is investigating what a performing arts archive can reveal about the Appalachian body as a mechanism of knowing Appalachian-ness.

Chris is an independent scholar whose area of interest includes exploration of archives as a space of performance and opportunities for the regeneration of collections through direct scholarly engagement and creative output.


Scott Prouty / Takoma Park, Maryland / 2015-2016 / Topic: Lomax Kentucky Web

Project: Scott’s Fellowship research will result in creation of a web-based annotated bibliography of the performers and performances collected in Kentucky by John and Alan Lomax.  This guide will include listings of print materials as well links to materials available online, such as CD reviews, articles or presentations about Lomax's Kentucky experiences, listserv or discussions of merit, and anything about the performers and performances. By embedding links to the Lomax Kentucky recordings available on Berea's site, the guide will achieve a level of interactivity not possible in print-based publications.

Scott has been involved in playing and documenting traditional old-time music for over 20 years and worked in libraries and archives professionally since 2005.

His current work through AmeriCorps is with the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) in West Virginia where he created an exhibit for the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center and organized a related successful concert series.

He has been engaged by the Old-Time Herald to conduct an oral history interview project and is currently co-authoring a book on Southern Appalachian fiddle music with Drew Beisswenger.

Nathan Salsburg / Louisville, Kentucky / 2014-2015 / Topic: Lomax Kentucky Web Collection

Nathan SalsburglProject: Nathan Salsburg’s Fellowship supported work involves preparing portions of John and Alan Lomax’s Kentucky recordings for addition to Hutchins Library’s extensive online traditional music collections. The recordings are being added in cooperation with the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and the Association for Cultural Equity / Alan Lomax Archive.

The recordings were made at various times 1933 to 1942, mostly in eastern Kentucky counties but also include sessions in northern Kentucky with soldiers at Fort Thomas and southern Ohio with Kentuckians living near Cincinnati.  The originals consist of about 185 acetate discs which have recently been digitized.

Specifically, Nathan will be building a digital catalog for the more than 500 individual performances on those discs. He will also make speed and pitch-adjustments to the audio files to correct for speed fluctuations that occurred when the original instantaneous disc-recording machines had to depend on battery power. He will make a presentation about his work and the present day significance of the Lomax recordings at the Berea’s Celebration of Traditional Music in October.

Nathan has served as curator of the Alan Lomax Archives at the Association for Cultural Equity since 2002.


Judy Sizemore / McKee, Kentucky / 2015-2016 / Topic: Teaching

Judy Sizemore

Project: Judy’s Fellowship work will be directed toward developing educational resources that enhance awareness of the musical and storytelling heritage of eastern Kentucky as documented in the Alan Lomax Kentucky recordings.

These resources will initially be provided for use by teachers, teaching artists, and students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the target counties of the Berea College Promise Neighborhood Initiative (Clay, Jackson, and Owsley) and other Eastern Kentucky counties. They will eventually be included in the Kentucky Educational Television collection on PBS Learning Media which will make them available to a national audience of educators.

Judy is a freelance writer, arts and cultural consultant. Her areas of expertise include arts education planning and assessment, arts integration in the classroom, and folk & traditional art. She most recently served as cultural researcher and arts education consultant for the Berea College Promise Neighborhood Initiative.


Brendan Taaffe / Brattleboro, Vermont / 2015-2016  / Topic: New Music Composition

Brendan TaaffeProject: Brendan Taaffe’s Fellowship supported research involves working with Kentucky poet Maurice Manning. He will take reworked text from Manning’s celebrated book Bucolics and compose a cycle of 12 new traditional songs, each one based on a song or fiddle tune from the Lomax Kentucky collection. Through publication of a book/cd set and public performance, he will strive to bring attention to the continued relevance of these recordings to the traditional music community and to do so in a way that creates connections with contemporary poetry and academia.

Brendan holds an MA in Musical Performance from the University of Limerick, Ireland (specializing in Irish traditional music on fiddle). As a composer, his choral work is based on traditional American hymnody with a special interest in the shape-note tradition.  His original songs have been performed broadly by community choruses in the USA, UK, and New Zealand and have been published in the most recent edition of Northern Harmony as well as in the collection Mansions in the Sky. He plays fiddle, claw hammer banjo, and guitar and plays for contra dances around the country.