Ben Fellows / Oxford, England / 2009-2010 / Topic: Race and American Roots
Project: Ben is a student majoring in politics and modern history at Oxford University's Harris Manchester College which accepts only students aged 21 and over. His research interests lie in the examination of social, cultural and political history of the United States. He is particularly interested in the experiences of musicians, singers and songwriters from the reconstruction period of the late 1800s to the civil rights movement of the mid 1900s. His Fellowship work at Berea was directed at analyzing how a variety of vernacular musical forms can be used to understand the attitudes and dispositions of Americans who lived through the dramatic societal changes resulting from the Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954. He drew on traditional music and other audio material, manuscript collections such as the Southern Regional Council Appalachian Desegregation Survey, news papers, and other published print sources. His Fellowship supported research formed the basis for his undergraduate dissertation for which he was awarded high distinction by Oxford University. His Berea research is also serving as a starting point from which to launch doctoral research which will focus on white nationalism and music from the 19th century. A copy of his undergraduate dissertation is available here through Berea's Department of Special Collections and Archives. [NOTE: Mr. Fellows' work contains, in a scholarly context, examples of language and viewpoints that some may find objectionable.]
Ajay Kalra / Johnson City, Tennessee / 2005-2006 / Topic: African Americans
Project: Kalra is a Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1999 he left behind a medical career in India to study bluegrass and country music performance at East Tennessee State University. There he earned an M.A. in Liberal Studies and became deeply involved in researching the music and culture of the region. He served as an assistant editor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia, for which he wrote a number of articles on Appalachian music. While at Berea he focused on analyzing the repertoires and playing styles of the seventeen African American performers who have appeared at Berea’s Celebration of Traditional Music since its beginning in 1974.
Paula Larke / Stone Mountain, Georgia / 2008-2009 / Topic: Race and American Roots Music
Project: Paula Larke is a writer, musician, and, story-teller who performs at schools, historical societies, cultural diversity programs, and historically black college alumni gatherings. The sources she draws upon include chants, songs, and spirituals from Tuskegee, Alabama; the Georgia Sea Islands; the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains; and the Piedmont Plateau region of North Carolina.
Paula's Music Fellowship work will be directed at gathering music and other materials to be used in a school based musical presentation that has as its backdrop the lives and times of her two grandfathers. Themes she will emphasize in her presentation include the importance of preserving family history and demonstrating ways of doing this with modern technology and through creative expressions such as song, rap, spoken word tributes, theatrical reenactments and video – digital stories.
One of her grandfathers was a community activist associated with the establishment of Southern Normal Institute in Brewton, Alabama. The other along with his sons, journeyed from South Carolina to Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and finally Ohio in search of work. Paula is particularly interested in identifying recordings of music and voices from radio and other sources that will suggest the music her father and grandfather were hearing and making their own as they made their way north to Ohio.
Paula's reflections on her archival work and performance of music encountered during her study are available in an approximately one hour You Tube video presentation.
Erich Nunn / Leesville, Louisiana / 2009-2010 / Topic: Race and American Roots Music
Project: Erich Nunn teaches courses at Auburn University on the literature and culture of the American South. His Berea Fellowship work is in furtherance of a book project on race and American roots music,Sounding the Color Line: Music and Race in the Southern Imagination (The New Southern Series. University of Georgia Press. 2015). He will focus particularly on materials in the Bradley Kincaid and D.K. Wilgus collections and the archive's commercial country music recordings from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.