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Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Program

Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Recipients for 2015-2016

Jason Howard   (Berea, Kentucky)

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.


Ajay Kalra   (Bowling Green, Kentucky)

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

Jordan Laney   (Blacksburg, Virginia)

Jordan’ Fellowship research will be in furtherance of her dissertation work in the area of collecting, archiving, and interpreting the history of Bluegrass music festivals. She will use Berea collections to gather data about early traditional music festivals and the transition from singing conventions to festivals.

Jordan is a doctoral student in an interdisciplinary program at Virginia Tech where her research is focusing on activism and space-making within Appalachian music. She is also works as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Appalachian Studies program.


Robert Lynn “Bobby” McMillon   (Burnsville, North Carolina)

Bobby will use Berea folklore and music collections to search out the Kentucky connections to ballads and stories he has collected in North Carolina from persons who had family members living in eastern Kentucky.

Bobby has performed throughout North Carolina as a singer and storyteller, serving in public schools as part of artists-in-the-schools programs.  He is a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient and has performed at events such as the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife.


Christopher Miller   (Radford, Virginia)

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  (Elkins, West Virginia)

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.


Judy Sizemore   (McKee, Kentucky)

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 Taafe  (Brattleboro, Vermont)

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.