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Berea Sound Archives Fellowship Topics

Tammy Clemons and Timi Reedy Berea, Kentucky / 2009-2010 Fellows / Topic: Appalachian Music

Project: Tammy Clemons and Timi Reedy are homesteaders living in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Their Fellowship work focused on documenting the musical careers of Timi's grandparents, John and Frances Reedy from Harlan County, Kentucky. The Reedys were early bluegrass musicians who, during the late 1940's through early 1960's, did factory work in Dayton, Ohio where they also became a part of that city's roots music scene that included Appalachian Rock-a-Billy and independent Bluegrass record labels. They also did contextual research in collections such as those of John Lair and Rueben Powell, organized and preserved the extensive Reedy Family audio and print material, and recorded interviews with Reedy family associates and others toward the end of documenting the musical and other cultural exchanges the Reedys' and their contemporaries were part of in Dayton. Timi and Tammy's fellowship activity report is included in their project blog Remembering the Reedys: Appalachian Music, Migration, & Memory. Their efforts finally culminated in 2022 with the release of a two audio CD set on the Yazoo label, The Legacy of John and Frances Reedy and Their Stone Mountain Band.

Liza DiSavino and A.J. Bodnar / Berea College, Kentucky / 2011-2012 / Topic: Appalachian Music

Project: Liza DiSavino is an Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education in Berea's Music Department. She is assisted in her Fellowship research by husband and fellow musician, A.J. Bodnar. Their study involves an in-depth musical comparison of previously gathered Catskills traditional music with similar titles and tunes from the Appalachian region found in Berea's collections. Research outcomes will include producing transcriptions of pieces for use in choral settings and other materials for use in her teaching elementary music methods for Berea's teacher education students. 

Liza DiSavino / Berea College, Kentucky / 2014-2015 / Topic: Appalachian Music

Project: Liza DiSavino’s study focused on early ballad collector Katherine Jackson (French) who collected over 50 ballads in the Kentucky mountains in 1909.  Jackson’s attempts to publish her collection in 1910 predate Cecil Sharp's landmark collection, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, by seven years.  She enlisted the aid of Berea College in her publishing attempt, an effort which never came to pass.  Liza’s research in the Berea Archives and extensive additional off campus work has brought to light the complicated relationship between Jackson and Berea, and raises intriguing questions regarding the impact publication of Jackson's collection would have had on America's crucial first impression of Appalachian balladry.  Liza’s research and Jackson’s ballad collection will be published in book form by the University Press of Kentucky. 

Liza is Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education in Berea College’s Department of Music.

Emily Hilliard / Washington, D.C. / 2014-2015 / Topic: Appalachian Music

Project: New documentation Emily has provided for Berea’s existing Carpenter collection includes three recorded interviews with family members and donation of home disc recordings which have been digitized and added to Berea’s online traditional music collections. Emily’s article on Nora Carpenter will be published in the spring 2016 issue of Southern Culture.

Emily is the State Folklorist with the West Virginia Humanities Council. Her work has been published in various media platforms and publications including NPR, PBS Food, American Food Roots, and Southern Living.

Jason Howard / Berea, Kentucky / 2015-2016 / Topic: Women in Appalachian Music

Jason HowardProject: Jason Howard’s Fellowship supported research will draw upon the Alan Lomax Kentucky Recordings and other Special Collections resources to study how Appalachian women have coped with hardship, chronicled local stories and even challenged the status quo through song. Generally he will work to widen his knowledge of the cultural and musical heritage of Appalachia. In particular he will focus on developing a deeper understanding of the gender roles and class dynamics existing in the mountains between 1933 and 1942 and how they affected the music of the region. Jason’s research outcomes will be both creative – writing a series of lyric essays about these women and their music, and scholarly -  providing significant underpinning of lectures and research for “Roots Music of the American South,” a General Studies-Required 210 class currently in the design stage.

Jason is an Appalachian writer and began his work as editor of Berea College’s literary journal Appalachian Heritage in 2013. His music related writing includes A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music, a creative nonfiction work of literary journalism that was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2012.

Alan Mills / Berea, Kentucky / 2008-2009 / Topic: Appalachian Music

Alan Mills

Project: Alan Mills teaches Appalachian Craft in the Berea College Department of Technology and Industrial Arts. The class explores such traditional crafts as basket making, woodworking, quilting, blacksmithing, and leather working within regional social and cultural contexts including music. For the woodworking emphases, some students choose to build dulcimers and banjos. His Music Fellowship work was directed at developing audio, photographic, and print material to support interpreting the wide range of Appalachian music's ethnic, vocal, and instrumental diversity.


Anna Roberts-Gevalt / Hinesburg, Vermont /  2008-2009 / Topic: Women in Appalachian Music

Anna Roberts-GevaltProject: Anna Roberts-Gevalt is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She grew up in Vermont, playing violin in a youth orchestra and in string quartets. Through recordings at college she was drawn to Appalachian fiddle and banjo tunes. This interest led to an internship at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky during the summers of 2007 and 2008. This work has included archival research at Berea, East Tennessee State University, and the Library of Congress and hands-on experience at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, which puts banjos and fiddles into the hands of eager school age children.

The overall theme of Anna's Music Fellowship work was an examination of the role of women in the history of traditional music in Kentucky. Specifically she explored the lives and music of at several Kentucky women fiddlers who are documented in the Berea collections. She transcribed their tunes, conducted field interviews and identified additional recordings of these women with the aim of expanding their narrative and musical stories within the archives. She also looked at the lives of several other Kentucky instrumentalists and conducted similar field work for the Berea archives. Dissemination will be by means of a multimedia website, an article, and a series of presentations and performances. Her article on Owsley County, Kentucky fiddler, Effie Pierson can be found in the June-July 2010 issue of Old-Time Herald.

Suzanne Savell / Whitesburg, Kentucky / 2006-2007 / Topics: Radio Programs; Appalachian Music

Suzanne SavellProject: Suzanne is a scholar, musician, and community organizer with degrees in Appalachian Studies from North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College and Appalachian State University where her research focused on community building and rural asset-based community development. Since 2003 she has worked at Appalshop, the multi-disciplinary arts and education center, doing grassroots organizing within the current traditional music communities of Southeastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. Her efforts have resulted in the development of after-school music programs, a bi-annual workshop / concert series, and production of traditional music programming on public radio station WMMT.

Beginning in January, her three months of Fellowship work will involve research and preproduction of a multi-part radio series about the first twenty years of Berea’s Celebration of Traditional Music. Building on the work of previous Music Fellows, Ajay Kalra and Deborah Thompson, she will delve deeply into the issues of gender, race, and what counts as tradition in Appalachian music. The programs will be broadcast on WMMT over the air and through the Internet and made available to other public radio stations. Audio clips and interpretive notes, and photos will be posted on a website and updated as the series is produced.

William Sears / Williamsburg, Kentucky / 2007-2008 / Topics: Radio Programs; Appalachian Music

William SearsProject: William is a fiddler and recent graduate of the University of Kentucky where he majored in Agriculture and Agricultural Biotechnology. His interest in homemade music developed from family and community associations growing up during the 1980s and 1990s in rural Whitley County, Kentucky about halfway between Williamsburg and Corbin. He started playing the fiddle at age twelve. Besides older fiddlers, his musical models and mentors have included singers, banjo players, and other musicians, many now up in years, who are railroad workers, farmers and public school teachers.

His study in the Berea Archives will be directed toward gaining an understanding of how his community's traditions of homemade music compare and contrast with those of adjacent counties and other parts of the state generally. Audio sources to be drawn upon include early commercial recordings of such groups as Walker's Corbin Ramblers and the later field recordings of Whitley County area musicians and singers made by Leonard Roberts and Loyal Jones. Work in the Archives will alternate with interview and performance recording of several Whitley and perhaps nearby McCreary County musicians and singers, none of whom have been documented previously.

Residency outcomes include a webpage exhibit featuring audio and contextual material documenting a sampling of some of the regional musicians that will be documented.

Deborah Thompson / Berea, Kentucky / 2005-2006  / Topic: Appalachian Music

Deborah ThompsonProject: Thompson focused on the ways race and gender are represented in Appalachian music, especially as this is illustrated over time in events such as Berea's Celebration of Traditional Music and the Mountain Heritage Festival at Carter Caves State Park. Deborah is a Ph.D. candidate in Geography at the University of Kentucky. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Appalachian Studies, and has taught courses and administered programs focused on the arts and culture of the region.

David VanderHamm / Chapel Hill, North Carolina / 2012-2013  / Topic: Appalachian Music

David VanderHammProject: David's Fellowship research will focus on the role of instrumental virtuosity in popular and regional musical styles heard on radio variety shows of the '30s and '40s, especially as it relates to guitarists, banjoists, and fiddlers.

He is looking to demonstrate that extraordinary instrumental skill is cultivated in unique ways throughout the musical world in popular as well as classical styles. He will also examine the way in which these programs utilize sonic markers of racial and cultural "Otherness" to imbue music with meaning.

Research outcomes include conference papers for the Society for American Music and the American Musicological Society which will be expanded into journal-length articles for publication.

David is a guitarist and musicologist specializing in the music of the 20th century. He is a Ph.D.graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an active performer and teacher within classical, jazz, and American folk-music contexts.

Marianne Worthington / Williamsburg, Kentucky / 2008-2009 / Topics: Poetry; Women in Appalachian Music

Marianne WorthingtonProject: Marianne Worthington is an Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Journalism at the University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, KY. Her Music Fellowship study will be in furtherance of work on a poetry manuscript in process, currently titled Knoxville Girl. She will use audio and other archival resources to enhance her knowledge of mountain music in general, to study the lives of particular women singers and folklorists in Kentucky, and to analyze specifically the words and music of murder ballads. The manuscript is directed at using poetry to tell these women's stories and to examine the issues and barriers women continue to face as artists and performers.

Marianne's poetry chapbook, Larger Bodies Than Mine, was chosen for the New Women’s Voices Series and received the 2007 Appalachian Book of the Year Award in Poetry. She has published over 40 poems in national, regional and on-line literary publications and over 60 non-fiction pieces (book reviews, essays, critical analyses, and feature-stories) in regional and scholarly journals. Her collection of poems “The Girl Singer” was published by the University Press of Kentucky in November 2021. She has also taught in the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts (KGSA) as a creative writing instructor.