Skip to Main Content

Berea Sound Archives Fellows 2005 - 2016

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

Erich Nunn / Leesville, Louisiana / 2009-2010 / Topic: Race and American Roots Music

Erich NunnProject: 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.

Joseph O'Connell / Bloomington, Indiana / 2013-2014 / Topic: Banjo Music

Jospeh O'ConnellProject: Joe's Fellowship supported research involves documenting banjo player and songwriter Jim Smoak, whose 60-year career includes important contributions to early bluegrass music.

Through a series of sound recorded interviews, performance recordings, and documentary photography he will explore Smoak's musical beginnings in rural South Carolina including his contact with three-finger banjo innovator Snuffy Jenkins, his career as a professional musician playing with Bill Monroe and others, his musical repertoire and techniques (vocal "eefing," "knocking the banjo," and other styles that date to his upbringing).

Joe's research will result in a collection of documentary materials for future research use in the Berea College Archives, an online resource presenting excerpts from this collection, a public program at Berea, and concert in Smoak's home area, Washington County, Indiana.

Joe is a musician and public folklorist with a special interest in folk music and community identity. In collaboration with Indiana's state folklife agency, Traditional Arts Indiana, he has documented many bluegrass and old-time musicians.

Cassie Patterson / Columbus, Ohio / 2010-2011 / Topic: Teaching; Folklore

Cassie PattersonProject: Cassie Patterson is a PhD student in the English department at Ohio State University. Her areas of study are Folklore, Ethnography, Appalachian Studies and Literary Studies. Her Fellowship project was in furtherance of her doctoral research which addresses the complexity of Appalachian educational practices, both historical and contemporary. She is especially interested in how interventions by outsiders collide with local community traditions, both as critique and romanticization of culture.

The primary focus of her Fellowship work was the audio recordings in Berea's Leonard Roberts Collection that documented Roberts' use of folktales as a teaching resource. A secondary focus was the early records that documented educational philosophy and methodology of Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky where in later years, Leonard Roberts was a teacher. A near term outcome of her Fellowship study is a conference paper at the American Folklore Society annual meeting in Nashville, October 2010.

Marina Peterson / Athens, Ohio / 2010-2011 / Topic: Radio Programs

Marina PetersonProject: Marina Peterson is an anthropologist and is Assistant Professor of Performance Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University. Her Berea Fellowship work will be in furtherance of research relating to a publication project on the 1940s musician's union recording bans.

Use of Berea's archival audio material will allow her to move beyond print accounts to get a sense of what the recording bans sounded like especially in the form of radio programs. Major themes to be addressed include music as labor, labor legislation, music commercialization, creation of regional identity through radio broadcasts, and how Appalachians were connected to the nation. Recordings and related manuscript materials that will be drawn upon are from collections in the areas of early commercial country music, commercialization of traditional music, Kentucky radio broadcasts, and traditional crafts and occupations. Research outcomes will include a series of conference papers at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US) and the Southern Labor Studies Conference. Journal articles will be submitted to journals in anthropology, performance studies, popular music studies, and labor studies.

Jacob Podber / Carbondale, Illinois / 2008-2009 / Topic: Radio Programs

Project: Jacob PodberJacob Podber is an Associate Professor in the Radio and Television Department at Southern Illinois University. Jacob's Music Fellowship work will be a continuance of research on the importance of Country music radio programming and how Appalachian music on the radio (and later television) helped contribute to the regions Identity. His study will utilize several portions of the John Lair Collection and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance Oral History Collection. His several years of research to date have resulted in his book, The Electronic Front Porch: An Oral History of the Arrival of Modern Media in Rural Appalachia and the Melugeon Community.

Scott Prouty / Takoma Park, Maryland / 2011-2012 / Topic: Fiddlers and Fiddle Music

Scott ProutyProject: Scott Prouty is a professional archivist and is deeply involved in playing and documenting West Virginia and Kentucky old-time fiddle music. His Fellowship research will involve documenting the work of Kentucky old-time music scholar John Harrod. He will record extensive interviews with Harrod about the fiddlers he has documented in his many hours of audio and video recordings that are available in Berea's Southern Appalachian Archives. Research outcomes will include incorporating the interview text and audio in a Berea online library guide, one or more articles, and informal music exchanges with Bluegrass Ensemble members and other students.

Photo Credit: LFolwick, 2011

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.

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.

James RuchalaJames Ruchala / Pinnacle, North Carolina / 2006-2007 / Topic: Banjo Music

Project: James is an Ethnomusicology PhD candidate at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. He has been intensely involved with Appalachian music as a fan, musician, dancer, and scholar since the mid 1990s. In order to better understand the “Round Peak” banjo and fiddle styles which he is studying in North Carolina, and to develop a working theory of regional styles in general, much of his Fellowship work, beginning in January, will involve making comparative transcriptions of tunes and songs from Berea audio collections that are found in both North Carolina and Kentucky traditions. Additionally, he will spend much time doing documentary fieldwork at local music events, dances, and in visits with musicians. The results of James’ work will be shared through campus performance, website exhibits, and deposited in the Berea archives for use by future researchers.