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Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Recipients for 2012-2013

Susan Stenger

Susan Stenger (Buffalo, New York)

Susan's Fellowship research will involve an in-depth study of particular aspects of Berea's traditional music collections toward the end of composing a new work for The Kronos Quartet, called An Untamed Sense of Control (in reference to Kentucky banjoist, Roscoe Holcomb and his performance style, as described by Bob Dylan). It will be premiered in 2013/14, the group's 40th anniversary season.

The musical interests that have come together in Susan's work include American folk, rock, and post-War experimental music. As a teenager she played in rock bands and then went on to classical flute studies in Prague and New York. She has toured the music of twentieth century composer John Cage, wrote songs, sang and played bass in Band of Susans. Most recently, she has been making sound installations and music for dance, film, and multimedia events.

Niki King

Niki King (Louisville, Kentucky)

Niki's Fellowship research will make use of radio programs, oral histories, and related materials to support further development of thehillville.com, an online urban lifestyle magazine for Appalachians that she co-publishes.

The envisioned result would be an approachable, journalistic, narrative treatment of the migration of Appalachians to urban centers, 1940 to 1970, in an interactive forum that would engage a new generation.

A chief feature will be an interactive map of urban Appalachian neighborhoods in such cities as Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton and Detroit with content that will tell their stories, past and present, based on original research, first-person interviews, old and new photographs, news clips, videos and other visual, experiential elements.

Niki grew up in East Tennessee. With an undergraduate journalism degree she has reported for metropolitan newspapers, including The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. Her master's degree study focused on urban planning, economic and community development and the role of communication in community change, development and integration.

Saro Lynch-Thomason

Saro Lynch-Thomason (Ashville, NC)

Saro's Fellowship research will make use of audio recordings in Berea's Leonard Roberts Collection to study Kentucky ballads which have mostly fallen out of oral tradition. She will build a singing repertoire of between 25-30 pieces with the object of revitalizing these rare stories and melodies in Southern Appalachian singing communities. Follow Saro’s research progress on her project blog.

Activities toward this end will include a series of knee-to-knee teaching workshops in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina; an on-line teaching resource with recordings; and development of a show exclusively featuring songs from this repertoire, including stories and memories from the source singers.

Saro's previous traditional music research and production work includes Blair Pathways, a musical exploration of the West Virginia Coal Wars (1902-1921) via a 20-track CD and multipage historic narrative. She also sings at numerous regional festivals, teaches in ballad-singing workshops, and leads a weekly community singing group that trades and teaches songs. Final Fellowship Report

Molly McBride

Molly McBride (East Lancing, Michigan)

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 senior in the Women and Gender Studies program at Michigan State University and is currently compiling oral histories of women in the Michigan fiddling tradition.

Sarah Downs

Sarah Downs (Berea, Kentucky)

Sarah's Fellowship research will make use of interview and performance recordings of Lily May Ledford and the Coon Creek Girls to develop a dance work for Berea's annual modern dance concert, Kinetic Expressions in 2014.

It will include improvisational contributions from Berea College students built around the archival materials. They will be shaped, structured and, ultimately, choreographed into a completed work with portions of the audio material also serving as a soundscape.

Additional research outcomes include (1) performances at schools, hospitals, and community centers in lecture demonstrations, dance playshops, and exhibitions throughout Madison and surrounding counties; and (2) Inclusion of a soundscape or "found sound" based project in the syllabus of PED 305 Improvisation and Choreography.

Sarah is Assistant Director of Dance Programs, Instructor in Physical Education and Health at Berea College. Her undergraduate and graduate study, respectively was at Eastern Kentucky University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Sarah Downs

David VanderHamm (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

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 will 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 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. Final Fellowship Report