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Grant Preserves Appalachian Music & Dance

A $115,000 grant from an anonymous donor is allowing Berea College to expand preservation and educational programs related to traditional Appalachian music and dance.

Activities funded by the grant benefit Berea students, music and dance scholars and the Appalachian region in a variety of ways.

More than half of the grant is funding preservation and activities that provide greater access to recordings of non-commercial traditional music in Berea’s Special Collections and Archives and foster research and study of these recordings. Activities include transferring recordings to CDs from reel-to-reel tape and uploading of recorded performances to the Appalachian College Association’s Digital Library of Appalachia. Recording, preserving and gathering existing recordings of dance callers and musicians is also part of this work. A newly created Appalachian Music Archives Fellowship supports research at Berea for 1-9 months using local resources and Berea’s traditional music recordings. Fellows also assist with digitizing recordings, website development and interpretive/educational writing about the recordings.

The remainder of the grant supports the expansion and development of traditional Appalachian music and dance programs at the College, funds performances of music and dance in the region and supports student internships and apprenticeships in traditional music and dance both on campus and in the region. Funds for additional faculty time for private lessons on traditional instruments, to purchase an inventory of traditional musical instruments – guitars, banjos, mandolins and fiddles – for loan to students taking lessons and performing in ensembles, and to create a Dance Music Ensemble to accompany traditional dances and to perform and travel with the internationally known Berea College Country Dancers, are also included in the grant.

For 150 years, an important part of the mission of Berea College has been serving the people of Appalachia primarily through education and through other appropriate services. The majority of students enrolled at Berea are from southern Appalachia and Kentucky. Students can minor in Appalachian Studies or as music majors, may choose a concentration in Appalachian Music. A wide range of academic, service, community development and cultural programs are sponsored by the Appalachian Center, Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS), and Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG), and Berea’s Hutchins Library Special Collections houses an outstanding collection of Appalachian publications and historic sources of information specific to the Appalachian region including documents, manuscripts, and photographs.

For more information about traditional music and dance heritage preservation and research activities, contact Steve Gowler, director or Harry Rice, sound archivist, at Hutchins Library Special Collections (859)985- 3262; for more about Music Department programs in traditional music, contact Ann Rhodes, music department chair (859)985-3463 or Al White, music instructor and director of Berea’s Bluegrass Ensemble (859)985-3401; for information on traditional dance at Berea, contact Susan Spalding, director of dance programs (859)985-3142; and for more about internships and apprenticeships, contact Katrina Rivers Thompson, internship coordinator (859)985-3748.

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