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Berea Sound Archives Fellows 2005 - 2016

Information about each of the Sound Archives Fellows and their project.

Erynn Marshall / British Columbia, Canada / 2005-2006 / Topic: Fiddlers and Fiddle Music

Erynn MarshallProject: Marshall primarily explored eastern Kentucky fiddle styles and song traditions following on similar research conducted in West Virginia begun in 1998. She is from British Columbia and is a fiddler, ethnomusicologist and author of the book Music in the Air Somewhere: The Shifting Borders of West Virginia's Fiddle and Song Traditions, recently published by the West Virginia University Press. Erynn’s work at Berea included transcriptions of fiddle tunes by Hiram Stamper, J.P. Fraley, Santford Kelly and others. She also interviewed members of the Stamper family and made a number of field recordings including a heretofore undocumented Old Regular Baptist congregation in Lincoln County. Her fieldwork involved meeting many resident musicians and visiting local, traditional music gatherings in Rockcastle, Garrard, Knox, Pike, Knott and Rowan counties as well as the Berea area. With banjoist Chris Coole she brought her residency to a close June 20th with an on campus concert that included several of the fiddle pieces and tunings she studied while at Berea.

Nate May / Cincinnati, Ohio / 2014-2015 / Topic: New Music Composition

Nate May

Project: Nate May is a composer from Huntington, West Virginia currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio. His Fellowship supported work will result in a 15-20 Minute song cycle for soprano and chamber ensemble based on oral histories of Appalachian migrants and their families. He will conduct interviews with Appalachian residents of Cincinnati and draw from the Berea Sound archives to supplement them with the stories of those who remained in Appalachia while loved ones left for urban areas.

Molly McBride / East Lansing, Michigan / 2012-2013 / Topic: Radio Programs

Project: Molly's Fellowship research is related to graduate Ethnomusicolgy studies and will use radio program recordings and oral histories to explore gender issues in early country music.

She will use Radio program to examine performer roles, musical styles, and character interplay. She will also consider how early country music radio was a place in the minds of listeners for women to act outside gender norms while still representing traditional values and remaining endearing and entertaining.

A near term research outcome will be creation of an online multimedia resource to communicate the early radio barn dance experience from the perspective of both listeners and performers. As Ethnomusicolgy study progresses, research findings will be the bases for conference papers and articles in such journals as Southern Quarterly and Women and Music.

Molly is a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and is currently compiling oral histories of women in the Michigan fiddling tradition.

Page McClean / Hobe Sound, Florida / 2013-2014 / Topic: Kinship and Traditional Music

Page McCleanProject: Page’s video documentation work involves studying the role of kinship in the preservation and transmission of Appalachian folk musical traditions.  She will focus both on multigenerational families that have passed down their musical knowledge as well as situations in which a lost tradition was recovered through an alternative interpretation of kinship.  As an addendum to her fieldwork with families, she will attend the Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Family Folk Week to explore the role that an institution can serve in supporting families in the promotion and preservation of folk traditions.

Page’s research will result in a series of filmed interviews and performances that will be available for future research use in the Berea College Archives.  She will edit her research into a film that she will share with the participants of the project and will later submit to film festivals. Page also presented at the 2015 Appalachian Studies Conference.

Page is a visual anthropologist who has engaged in ethnographic and visual research in Europe and the Americas.  In addition to her video work, she is a singer-songwriter and an acoustic guitarist.  She currently works as an educator and a writer in Colorado.

John McCurley / Bloomington, Indiana / 2010-2011 / Topic: Fiddlers and Fiddle Music

John McCurleyProject: John McCurley is a young fiddler living in Bloomington, Indiana. His musical interests date from high-school years in Berea after which he went on to Reed College in Oregon where he majored in philosophy. His Fellowship work at Berea was the initial research phase for the development of a free educational website that will serve present day fiddlers who are showing increasing interest in adding Kentucky fiddle tunes to their repertoires. From many hours of auditioning archival recordings, fifteen tunes were selected to be featured on the website. The site will be a resource for experienced musicians and a non-intimidating medium for those new to traditional music to learn a few fundamentals of fiddling and develop a small set of tunes that they can play. Recognizing the importance in the learning process of watching someone play a fiddle tune, the site will include video performances of each tune by a series of current-day fiddlers in addition to the source recordings from the Berea collection.

Nathan McGee / Bellevue, Kentucky / 2011-2012 / Topic:Radio Programs

Nathan McGeeProject: Nathan McGee has recently earned a Masters degree in American History from the University of Cincinnati. His work in the Berea Archives will be in furtherance of a doctoral project that will examine the strong connection between radio and migration in the twentieth century. Particular areas of interest include how radio served as a support mechanism for Appalachian residents who migrated to urban areas in the 1940s and 1950s and how musical and cultural aspects that were once mainly "Appalachian" became part of the national consciousness. His Berea research will make extensive use of radio program recordings and scripts, listener mail, and oral histories recorded by radio station performers and programmers. In addition to support of doctoral study and teaching, research outcomes include a paper presentation at an upcoming Appalachian Studies Conference and an article in a regional journal such as Ohio Valley History.

Lauren S. McKee / Atlanta, Georgia / 2011-2012 / Topic: Poetry

Lauren S. McKeeProject: Laura McKee is a writer and teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. She received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry from Stanford University and her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, and New South. Her 2012 Sound Archives Fellowship research was in support of a book-length narrative poem presently in process, that is set in East Tennessee during World War II. She drew upon Berea's 1940s era recordings of folklore, religious music, and local radio programming to make possible as she says "bringing the textures of religious language and local media directly into the poem."

Robert Lynn "Bobby" McMillion / Burnsville, North Carolina / 2015-2016 / Topic: Appalachian Ballads

Robert Lynn “Bobby” McMillonProject: Bobby used 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 / 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.

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.


Susan Mills / Boone, North Carolina / 2006-2007 / Topic: Folklore

Susan MillsProject: Susan is the Coordinator of Music Education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Her traditional music involvement started with high school folk dance activities in Pulaski County, Kentucky and eventually included playing bass and piano for folk dance groups and at commercial country and bluegrass venues in Florida. She has taught music at the elementary and middle school level and is presently involved in training other music educators. Beginning in June, her Fellowship work at Berea will focus on the development of Appalachian music teaching resources for elementary and middle school music classes that meet state and national music education standards. These resources will be derived mainly from audio and manuscript materials in Berea’s Leonard Roberts Folklore Collection and be made available through a teaching resources website, journal publications, classroom lecture/demonstrations, and music education in-service workshops.

Lukas Murphy / Richmond, Kentucky / 2011-2012 / Topic: Bluegrass Music History

Lukas MurphyProject: Lukas Murphy's undergraduate study at Eastern Kentucky University focused heavily on vocal and instrumental music and history. He will be entering Eastern's History graduate program in the Fall of 2012. The life experiences he brings to his Berea studies include a family tradition of home-made music and professional Bluegrass performing. An accompanying keen interest in documenting local history and culture has resulted in many years experience in genealogy research. His Fellowship supported research is directed at describing and better understanding the musical interchanges resulting from migration by eastern Kentuckians to urban centers, particularly the Cincinnati, Middletown, and Dayton, Ohio areas. He is using archival audio, manuscript, and print material and extensive interviews he will conduct with past and current musicians to document the musical landscape prior to migration, what it was like for those who stayed at home, the experience of those who made the move, and those they encountered in their Ohio roots music communities where Bluegrass and Appalachian Rock-a-Billy coexisted. 

Lukas's Berea work will serve as a starting point from which to launch graduate research. He will share his findings through a paper presentation at the 2012 Appalachian Studies Conference.