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HERITAGE AWARD-WINNING
TENNESSEE FOLK ARTISTS

Tennessee is home to many outstanding folk artists who have mastered, preserved, and passed on their traditional skills.   A number of Tennesseans have received special recognition by both federal and state programs for lifetime dedication and accomplishments in the folk arts.  Their contributions to our culture are honored and remembered through these heritage awards, and sources about their lives and work, linked by clicking their names below, provide a sampling of the best of Tennessee’s traditional arts.

The National Heritage Fellowship is an award presented annually since 1982 to about a dozen Americans by the National Endowment for the Arts.  Although the program strives for wide representation to people of different backgrounds, places, and art forms, the long list of recipients over the years whom Tennessee can claim testifies to our state’s folk cultural wealth:

Brownie McGhee, blues musician, Knoxville & Kingsport (1982)
Bill Monroe, bluegrass musician, Nashville (1982)
Alex Stewart, cooper/woodworker, Sneedville (1983)
Nimrod Workman, ballad singer, Mascot (1986)
The Fairfield Four, gospel group, Nashville (1989)
Earl Scruggs, bluegrass banjo player, Madison (1989)
Howard Armstrong, stringband musician, LaFollette (1990)
Robert Spicer, buckdancer, Dickson (1990)
B.B. King, blues musician, Memphis (1991)
Clyde Davenport, old-time musician, Jamestown (1992)
Kenny Baker, bluegrass fiddler, Cottontown (1993)
Will Keys, old-time banjo player, Gray (1996)
Jim & Jesse McReynolds, bluegrass musicians, Gallatin (1997)
Dale Calhoun, Reelfoot Lake boat builder, Tiptonville (1998)
Ralph Blizard, old-time fiddler, Blountville (2002)
Jerry Douglas, resophonic guitar player, Nashville (2004)
Doyle Lawson, bluegrass musician, Bristol (2006)
Mac Wiseman, bluegrass singer, Nashville (2008)
Del McCoury, bluegrass singer, Nashville (2010)

The Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award has been presented every other year since 2001 as part of the Governor’s Arts Awards, a program of the Tennessee Arts Commission.  The award honors “long-term achievements within art forms that are rooted in the traditional or ethnic culture of Tennessee.”  Some of its recipient artists have also received the National Heritage Fellowship, and the Governor’s Awards also recognized a few folk artists prior to the creation of the Folklife Heritage category:

Earl Scruggs, bluegrass banjo player, Madison (1994)
The Fairfield Four, gospel group, Nashville (1994)
Bessie Harvey, outsider artist, Alcoa (1994)
Bob Douglas, old-time fiddler, Chattanooga (2001)
Spirit of Memphis Quartet, gospel group, Memphis (2001)
Ida Pearl Davis & Thelma Hibdon, basketmakers, Woodbury (2001)
Howard Armstrong, stringband musician, LaFollette (2003)
Ralph Blizard, old-time fiddler, Blountville (2003)
Clara Fodor, needleworker, Linden (2003)
Roy Harper, old-time singer, Manchester (2003)
Charlie Acuff, old-time fiddler, Alcoa (2005)
Fletcher Bright, fiddler, Chattanooga (2005)
Clyde Davenport, old-time musician, Jamestown (2007)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, spiritual group, Nashville (2007)
Robert Belfour, blues musician, Memphis (2009)
Charles J. Horner, instrument maker, Rockwood (2009)
Newberry & Sons Chairs, chairmakers, Red Boiling Springs (2009)
Thomas Maupin, buckdancer, Murfreesboro (2011)
Charles Towler, convention gospel musician, Cleveland (2011)

 

 


Charlie Acuff

old-time fiddler, Alcoa

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2005)

Charlie Acuff

Photo by Robert Cogswell


Like his famous cousin Roy, Charlie Acuff (1919-   ) comes from Union County, but whereas Roy became famous as a country music entertainer, Charlie has devoted himself to a deeper mastery of old-time fiddling.  His dedication was evident from the beginning, as he had to learn left-handed.  He always played widely, for square dances and on the radio, but he balanced his music with a 40 year career at the Alcoa aluminum plant.  Since he retired in 1982, Charlie has performed regularly for old-time music audiences, including those at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and he’s shared his large repertory of tunes with countless students.  His sharp recollections and warm personality have made him one of the best-loved musical figures in East Tennessee.

To see Charlie Acuff’s profile in the 2005 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about Charlie Acuff, go to:

http://web.knoxnews.com/special/songs/acuff.html

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert, Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 6-11
Fiddler Magazine’s Favorites (Mel Bay Publications, 1999, with CD).

Media:

Better Times a-Comin', Tennessee Folklore Society TFS-114  (CD, 2000)
East Tennessee Fiddler, Spring Fed SFR-CGP-001 (DVD reissue, 2010). 
     Available from http://www.springfedrecords.com/.
Carrying on the Traditions: Appalachian Fiddling Today, Fiddler Magazine      FMV-01 (VHS, 1997?)
Charlie Acuff: Left-Handed Fiddler (featuring John Hartford), CA01 (cassette,      1990)

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Howard Armstrong

string band musician, LaFollette

National Heritage Fellowship (1990)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)

Howard Armstrong


Fiddle and mandolin player Howard Armstrong (1909-2003) lived in Chicago, Detroit, and Boston during his adult life, but he spent his childhood in Tennessee where his father labored in the steel and coal industries.  He was born in Dayton, lived for a time in Sparta, and became a musician during a longer residence in LaFollette.  As a teenager, he frequently performed on the streets in Knoxville, and from the beginning his music showed diverse influences ranging from hillbilly to tin-pan alley and jazz.  He was sometimes known as “Louie Bluie” from an early recording pseudonym.  As a professional player in northern cities, he was exposed to even more cultural diversity than he’d experienced in Tennessee coal camps, and he became conversant with a variety of languages and ethnic music traditions.  Late in his career, Armstrong and some of his early musical cohorts were rediscovered as veterans of forgotten African American country string band music.  He took part in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and two films were made about his life.  In 2007, the local Louie Bluie Festival was launched in Campbell County as an annual tribute to him.

For Howard Armstrong’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1990_01

To see Howard Armstrong’s profile in the 2003 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about Howard Armstrong, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Armstrong

For further reading, see:

Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 33-35, 703.
Zwigoff, Terry, “Louie Bluie: The Life and Music of Howard Armstrong, “  78      Quarterly 1,5 (1990): 41-55.

Media:

Sweet Old Song , by Leah Mahan (film, 2002)
Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
Howard Armstrong, Louie Bluie, Arhoolie 470 (CD 1998) 
Howard Armstrong, Louie Bluie, Blue Suit BS106D (CD 1995)
Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong, That Old Gang of Mine, Flying Fish CDFLY 3      (CD reissue 1993)
Louie Bluie, Criterion Collection 532 (DVD reissue of Terry Zwigoff’s 1986      film)
Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong, Let’s Have Party, Flying Fish 27003 (LP)
Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong, Barnyard Dance, Rounder 2003 (LP 1974)

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Kenny Baker

bluegrass fiddler, Cottontown

National Heritage Fellowship (1993)

Kenny Baker


Born and raised in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields, Kenny Baker (1926 - 2011 ) was immersed in old-time fiddling in his youth.  After service in World War II, he began his career as a professional musician by pursuing more modern swing stylings on the fiddle.  In 1957 he first joined the band of Bill Monroe, and in his career as a Bluegrass Boy until 1984, Baker became the most influential fiddler in the bluegrass genre.  As Monroe’s popularity surged with festivals and touring in the 1960s, Baker relocated to the Nashville area.  In later years, he performed in a partnership with resophonic guitar master Josh Graves, and lived in retirement in Sumner County.  Through his prominence as Monroe’s all-time premier bandmember and his many recordings, Baker inspired a generation of players to emulate his smooth, signature longbow stylings, and his many challenging instrumental compositions.

For Kenny Baker’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to:
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1993_02

For more about Kenny Baker and his recordings, go to:

http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/baker_kenny_bluegrass_/artist.jhtml
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/177
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Baker_(musician)
http://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/2009/05/kenny-baker.html

For further reading, see:

Devan, Brett F., “Kenny Baker: One of the Masters,” Bluegrass Unlimited  25,      #8 (Feb 1991): 20-24.
Foster, Alice, “Kenny Baker,” Bluegrass Unlimited  3, #6 (Dec 1968): 8-11.            Reprinted in Thomas Goldsmith, ed., The Bluegrass Reader (Urbana:      University of Illinois Press, 2004), pp. 178-83.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 50-52, 704.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 25-26.
Michel, Robert, "Kenny Baker: A Week with a Bluegrass Legend," Fiddler      Magazine  1, #4. (Winter 1994-95):  4-10.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 306-7.
Willis, Barry R.  America’s Music: Bluegrass.  (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 347-50.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
See sources above for information about Baker’s many recordings

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Robert Belfour

blues musician, Memphis

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2009)

Robert Belfour

Photo by Robert Cogswell


Like many notable musicians before him, Robert Belfour (1940-   ) moved to Memphis from the surrounding countryside before making a name for himself in the blues.  In Belfour’s case, notoriety was slow to materialize but well-deserved.  As a boy he learned to sing and play guitar in the Mississippi hill country blues tradition from his father and other local musicians in Holly Springs.  Construction work brought him to Memphis in 1968, with music remaining his active sideline until he retired 35 years later.  By that point he’d gained considerable local recognition and limited opportunities beyond, but since then he’s enjoyed a busy career touring both nationally and abroad.  Today, Belfour is one of America’s foremost living country bluesmen and Memphis’ strongest link to the rural stream that forged its musical heritage. 

To see Robert Belfour’s profile in the 2009 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.

For more about Robert Belfour, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Belfour
http://www.bluesinlondon.com/interviews/robert_belfour_2007.html
http://www.fatpossum.com/artists/belfour.html
http://www.bluesartstudio.com/NeueSeiten/Robert%20Belfour.html

For further reading, see:

Camarigg, Mark, “Robert Belfour: The Wolfman Speaks,” Living Blues 36, #6      (issue #181) (Nov/Dec 2005): 20-25.
Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 12-17.

Media:

What's Wrong With You, Fat Possum CD 80336-2 (2000)
Pushin' My Luck,  Fat Possum CD 80369-2  (2003)
The Spirit Lives On: Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals, Hot Fox (CD      1994)

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Ralph Blizard

old-time fiddler, Blountville

National Heritage Fellowship (2002)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)

Ralph Blizard  
Photo by Robert Cogswell


East Tennessee fiddler Ralph Blizard (1918-2004) enjoyed two musical careers, first as a young man, and then in later life.  In 1932, barely a teenager, Blizard first formed The Southern Ramblers and for over twenty years played actively on local radio stations and at live concerts, but responsibilities as a young father eventually led him away from music for more dependable income.  Upon retirement from Tennessee Eastman in 1980, he resumed playing to gain a new reputation as that era’s finest interpreter of the long-bow style and repertory of Dickson County’s famous fiddler, Arthur Smith.  Blizard took part in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and with young accompanists in his reconstituted New Southern Ramblers he gained a wide audience and many students among old-time enthusiasts nationwide.

For Ralph Blizard’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2002_01

To see Ralph Blizard’s profile in the 2003 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more on Ralph Blizard, go to:

http://www.oldtimeherald.org/here+there/final-notes/ralph-blizard.html
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/179
http://www.aca-dla.org/dlamusic/dlamusic.html (search “Blizard”)

For further reading, see:

Peter Anick, “Ralph Blizard: Rambling with a Southern Rambler ,” Fiddler      Magazine (Spring, 1999).  Available online at      http://www.fiddle.com/Articles.page?Index=21&ArticleID=18903
Bowman, James D., “Ralph Blizard: Gentlemanly Old Time Fiddler,” Fiddler      Magazine 12, #2 (Summer 2005): 21-23.
Jamison, Phil, “Remembering Ralph Blizard,” Fiddler Magazine 12, #2      (Summer 2005): 24.
Lilly, John,  “Blizard Train,” insert notes to Blizard Train, June Appal JA0056      (1989; CD reissue 2005).
-------, “Ralph Blizard (1918-2004),” Sing Out!49, #1 (Spring 2005): 216-17.
Orr, Doug, “Ralph Blizard: The Long Bow Master,” Old-Time Herald 5, #6      (Nov/Jan, 1996/97): 14-17, 55.

Media:

Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Blizard Train, June Appal      JA0056 (1989; CD reissue 2005)
John Lilly and Ralph Blizard, Blue Highway, John Lilly Music (1992, CD      reissue 2005)
Ralph Blizard & the New Southern Ramblers, (Fiddler Magazine, 1997)
Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Southern Ramble, Rounder      CD 0352 (CD, 1995)
Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Fox Chase, Yodel-Ay-Hee      CD030 (CD, 2000)
 Ralph Blizard & The New Southern Ramblers, Ralph Blizard Fiddles, Blizard      0989C (cassette, 1983)

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Fletcher Bright

fiddler, Chattanooga

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2005)

Fletcher Bright


Chattanoogan Fletcher Bright (1931-   ) has balanced a career as a successful businessman with a lifetime passion for traditional fiddle tunes.  In the 1940s, he and classmates at McCallie School first got interested in country music, and they soon formed a bluegrass band called the Dismembered Tennesseans.  As they all became prominent men in the city, they continued to keep the band going.  Their spirited dedication, dry humor, and frequent public performances helped build local appreciation for bluegrass over the years.  Outlasting most of his bandmates, Bright has continued to keep the Dismembered Tennesseans active with new players.  In retirement, he’s redoubled his commitment to fiddling, also performing his large instrumental repertory with his Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band and remaining active as a teacher and participant in traditional music events around the country.   

To see Fletcher Bright’s profile in the 2005 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about Fletcher Bright, go to:

http://www.dismemberedtennesseans.com/

For further reading, see:

Cardwell, Nancy, “Fletcher Bright & the Dismembered Tennesseans –
     Sixty-two Years and Counting,” Bluegrass Unlimited  42, #8 (Feb 2008):
     42-45.
Wood, Jim.  “Fletcher Bright:  Playing, Teaching, Giving Back.”  Fiddler      Magazine 14, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 4-10.

Media:

Dismembered Tennesseans, We've Never Sounded Better:  and that's a      shame - after 57 years, Three Guys Productions (CD 2004)
Dismembered Tennesseans, It Just Gets Gooder and Gooder, (DVD 2003)
Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band, Live at the Laurel, January 26, 2002 (CD 2002)
Dismembered Tennesseans, Live at the Laurel (CD 2001)
Dismembered Tennesseans, Theft Proof, Cassell Tunes/Three Guys      Productions 500199-11(CD 1999)
Dismembered Tennesseans, (2 CD set)
Dismembered Tennesseans, Singing from the Heart Through the Nose,      Three Guys Records DT-595 (CD )
Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band, Old Time Tunes, (CD)
Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band, Last Night’s Fun, (CD)
Fletcher Bright, Fiddle Tunes: They All Sound Alike, Atteiram Records
     API-1710 (cassette)
Dismembered Tennesseans, Forty Years With the Wrong Band, 37284 (LP)
Dismembered Tennesseans, Singing Their Greatest Hits (LP)

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Dale Calhoun

Reelfoot Lake boat-builder, Tiptonville

National Heritage Fellowship (1998)

Dale Calhoun
Photo by Robert Cogswell


For the last fifty years of his life, Dale Calhoun (1935-2007) was the principle maker of the unique Tennessee watercraft associated with Reelfoot Lake in the northwest corner of the state.  The “lakeboat” or “stumpjumper” evolved in the 1800s to navigate this flooded cypress swamp created by earthquakes early in the century.  Dale’s great-grandfather Joseph was a blacksmith who’d become involved in boat-building by the early 1900s.  By Dale’s lifetime the Calhoun shop dominated this local tradition, and the pirogue-like boat had attained its modern features, with an unusual forward-facing oar system, inboard motor, and lever-operated rudder.  Dale constantly built boats in his spare time during a long career with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.  He was featured in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, and for over twenty years he served as a cultural ambassador for Reelfoot by doing demonstrations of his craft at events throughout Tennessee.

For Dale Calhoun’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1998_03

For further reading, see:

Andrews, James G., “The Reelfoot Boat-Builders,” Memphis Commercial      Appeal Mid-South Magazine (December 30, 1973): 4-6.
Caldwell, Russell H., “Boats by Calhoun,” in Reelfoot Lake: History-Duck      Call Makers-Hunting Tales (Union City, TN: Caldwell’s Office Outfitters,      1988), pp. 68-71.
Cogswell, Robert, “Dale Calhoun & the Reelfoot Lake Boat,” Tennessee      Folklore Society Bulletin 59, #2 (1999): 48-60.   Reprinted in Ted Olson
     and Anthony P. Cavender, eds., A Tennessee Folklore Sampler:
     Selections from the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin, 1935-2009
       (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009): pp.29-41.
-------, “Dale Calhoun, 1935-2007,” Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 63,      #1/2 (Spr-Fall 2007): 57.
Conover, Robin, “Calhoun’s Reelfoot Lake Boats,” Tennessee Magazine 35,      #3 (Mar 1991): 24-25.
Creason, Joe, “The Boats That Go Hind-End Fore: They can dodge Reelfoot      Lake’s snags,” Louisville Courier-Journal Magazine (October 26, 1963),
     pp. 35-38.
Dupree, Spence, “The Calhouns: Three Generations of Boatbuilding,” The      Jackson (TN) Sun (June 30, 1975), p. 6C.
Gammerdinger, Harry, “The Reelfoot Stumpjumper: Traditional Boat Building      in Tennessee,” in Robert E. Walls and George H. Schoemaker, eds.,
     The Old Traditional Way of Life
(Bloomington, IN: Trickster Press, 1989),
     pp. 78-95.
Garth, Gary, “Reelfoot Revisited,” Field & Stream 102, # 4 (August 1997):
     68-71.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 95-97, 706-7.
Pomeroy, Maurice, “The Stumpjumper of Reelfoot Lake,” Tennessee      Conservationist 40, #9 (Sep 1974): 18-20.
Tuberville, Jack, “The Reelfoot Lake Boat: A Tennessee Original,” Tennessee      Conservationist 53, # 6 (Nov/Dec 1987): 3-5.
-------,  “A Well-Used Boat: The Reelfoot Lake Stumpjumper,” Wooden Boat       82 (May/Jun 1988): 19-20, 23, 25.
Wilson, George Tipton, “Reelfoot Stumpjumpers: A Family Tradition,”      Tennessee Conservationist 61, #5 (Sep/Oct 1995): 26-29.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)

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Clyde Davenport

Old-time musician, Jamestown

National Heritage Fellowship (1992)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award  (2007)

Clyde Davenport
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Clyde Davenport (1921-   ) has lived his entire life on the Cumberland Plateau--on both sides of the Tennessee-Kentucky border—and his music reflects mastery of the instrumental traditions of this unique Appalachian area.  Raised by a fiddler and exposed as a boy to deeply historical local tunes, Davenport also heard firsthand the region’s most famous old-time duo, Burnett & Rutherford.  He’s preserved a huge repertory from the area’s intersecting musical streams.  At one point Clyde played mostly banjo in public, but in his subsequent career he’s become known for his fiddle mastery, in both archaic solo pieces and the smooth style and tune corpus of Leonard Rutherford.  Although he has now traveled widely to perform for knowledgeable heritage music audiences, Davenport mostly performs in private, sharing tunes in his home with students and visitors who often seek him out from great distances.

For Clyde Davenport’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to:
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1992_04

To see Clyde Davenport’s profile in the 2007 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about Clyde Davenport, go to:

http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/davenport/CLYDE_DAVENPORT.html
http://web.knoxnews.com/special/songs/davenport.html
http://www.aca-dla.org/dlamusic/dlamusic.html (search “Davenport”)

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:     Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 42-47.
Fulcher, Bobby, The Cumberland Music Tour  (Nashville: Southern Arts      Federation and Tennessee Arts Commission, 1988), pp. 15-16.  Click
     here
to download.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 152-54, 710.
Titon, Jeff Todd,  Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes  (Lexington: University      Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp. 3-5, 204 (includes CD).

Media:

Shades of Clyde, Spring Fed  SFR-CGP-007 (DVD reissue, 2010).  Available     from http://www.springfedrecords.com/.
Clyde Davenport, Vol. 1, Field Recorders’ Collective, FRC 103 (CD, 2005)
Clyde Davenport, Vol. 2, Field Recorders’ Collective, FRC 104 (CD, 2005)
W.L. Gregory and Clyde Davenport, Monticello: Tough Mountain Music, Spring      Fed Records SFR DU-33014 (CD reissue)
W.L. Gregory and Clyde Davenport, Homemade Stuff, Spring Fed Records      SFR DU-33028 (CD reissue)
Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
Puncheon Camps, Berea College Appalachian Center AC 002 (Cassette,      1992)
Traditional Music of the Cumberland Plateau, Vol. 1: Gettin’ Up the Stairs,      County 786 (LP)
Clydeoscope, County 788 (LP, 1986)

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Ida Pearl Davis & Thelma Hibdon

basketmakers, Woodbury

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2001)

Ida Pearl Davis & Thelma Hibdon
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Throughout her later life, Ida Pearl Davis (1921-2007) exemplified the highest standards of excellence in the once-thriving white oak basketry tradition of Cannon County.  Her daughter Thelma Hibdon (1942-   ) encouraged Davis’ craftwork, and they served in many capacities as ambassadors for this local craft heritage.  Locally, basketmaking was a woman’s craft, and Davis descended from makers in several prominent basket families in the Short Mountain area.  Like many of her age-peers, she learned as a girl, became inactive as an adult while doing textile plant work, then returned to the craft as later years brought new opportunities and appreciation for it.  Davis and Hibdon demonstrated in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and in other events throughout Tennessee.

To see Ida Pearl Davis and Thelma Hibdon’s profile in the 2001 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For further reading, see:

Alligood, Leon, “Woman, 70, weaves way to best in the basket-making      business,” Tennessean (May 26, 1992): B1, B4.
Cogswell, Robert, “Ida Pearl Davis, 1922-2007,” Tennessee Folklore Society      Bulletin 63, #1/2 (Spr-Fall 2007): 58.
Glasco, Mary Ellen, “Ida Pearl Davis Weaves Baskets of Pride,” Tennessee      Magazine (Sep 1989): 8-9, 20.
Milburn, Trish, “Weaving by Heart,” Tennessee Magazine (Sep 2001): 18-20.
Slaughter, Sylvia, “Weaving Tradition,” Tennessean (August 11, 2001): 1-2D.

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Bob Douglas

old-time fiddler, Chattanooga

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2001)

Bob Douglas
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Fiddler Bob Douglas (1900-2001) lived a remarkable musical life.  As a boy, he accompanied his fiddling father to play for community dances on Walden’s Ridge and in the Sequatchie Valley.  As young man, he rubbed shoulders with pioneers of recorded hillbilly music, and he was likely the first musician to play on the radio in Chattanooga.  He remained a popular broadcast and dance band figure there for decades and gave the Louvin Brothers their first job.  When the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Association revived interest in his musical form beginning in the 1960s, Douglas was a regular winner at sponsored contests.  His huge tune repertory spanned the several epochs of his career, and he was a repeat performer at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife.  Inspiring many younger musicians, he remained a vigorous player until the end of his life, performing for the first time on the Grand Ole Opry at age 100.

To see Bob Douglas’ profile in the 2001 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about Bob Douglas, go to:

http://www.southeasttennessee.com/www/docs/806.2796/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/bob-douglas-729092.html

For further reading, see:

Fulcher, Robert, “Bob Douglas, Fiddler of the Century, Part 1,” Tennessee     Folklore Society Bulletin 64, #2 (2008):  3-32.
-------, “Bob Douglas, Fiddler of the Century, Part 2,” Tennessee Folklore     Society Bulletin 65, #1 (2009):  3-28.
-------, “Sequatchie Valley: Seven Decades of Country Fiddling,” booklet insert      to Sequatchie Valley: Seven Decades of Country Fiddling by Bob Douglas,      Tennessee Folklore Society TFS-109 (LP, 1990).
Irwin, John Rice.  A People and Their Music: The Story Behind the Story of      Country Music (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 2000), pp.75-92.

Media:

The Pine Breeze Recordings, Jubilee Records JCA-1003 (CD, 2005)
Bob Douglas: 100 Years Old, Ain’t Done Yet,  Hot Planet Productions (DVD,      2001)
Sequatchie Valley Fiddlin’  98, Spring Fed  SFR-CGP-004 (DVD reissue,     2010).  Available from http://www.springfedrecords.com/.
Sequatchie Valley: Seven Decades of Country Fiddling by Bob Douglas,      Tennessee Folklore Society TFS-109 (LP, 1990)
Waldens Ridge, Tennvale TV001S (LP, 1973)
Selections from Bob Douglas’ many other custom LP’s are slated for inclusion on an upcoming CD from Jubilee Community Arts

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Jerry Douglas

resophonic guitar player, Nashville

National Heritage Fellowship (2004)

Jerry Douglas
Photo by Donn Jones


A native of Ohio, Jerry Douglas (1956-   ) has in recent decades revolutionized resophonic guitar playing in bluegrass and related acoustic music.  As a youngster growing up in bluegrass circles, Douglas was 11 when he took up the instrument--also known by the “Dobro” trade name—which features a metal cone resonator and is played horizontally with a metal slide.  He began his professional career at age 18, playing with the Country Gentlemen, J.D. Crowe, and other leading bluegrass groups of the 1970s.  In 1983, Douglas came to Nashville, where his stylistic innovations made him a highly sought-after studio and touring player in traditional, progressive, and commercial arenas of country music.  In that role, he’s been at the forefront of recent popular revivals of roots music, and his work has extended the tradition of “Hawaiian” guitar playing into a new musical era.

For Jerry Douglas’ National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2004_04

For more about Jerry Douglas and his recordings, go to:

http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/douglas_jerry/artist.jhtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Douglas

For further reading, see:

Himes, Geoffrey, “On the Lookout for Jerry Douglas,” Bluegrass Unlimited       36, # 12 (June 2002): 36-40.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), p. 151.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), p. 358.
Willis, Barry R.,  America’s Music: Bluegrass (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 393-95.
Wolfe, Bobby, “The Jerry Douglas Story,” Bluegrass Unlimited  26, # 2 (Aug      1991): 20-26.

Media:

See sources above for information about Douglas’s many recordings.

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The Fairfield Four

gospel group, Nashville

National Heritage Fellowship (1989)
Governor’s Award in the Arts (1994)

The Fairfield Four
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Beginning as an a capella youth group in the 1930s, the Fairfield Four rose to prominence during the heyday of African American quartet singing in the 1940s through nationwide touring and a syndicated radio show.  There were many changes in the group’s personnel over the years, but its success came under the long leadership of tenor singer Rev. Sam McCrary.  As the quartet era waned, the group disbanded in 1960, but they reorganized as the result of reunion performances in 1980 to introduce their gospel harmonies to a new generation of listeners.  They performed in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife.  The group’s members during the period of their heritage recognitions were McCrary, James Hill, Isaac Freeman, Willie Richardson, Wilson Waters, and Robert Hamlett.

For The Fairfield Four’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1989_02

For more about the Fairfield Four and their recordings, go to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairfield_Four

For further reading, see:

Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 188-90, 712.
Seroff, Doug, 1988 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program  (Nashville:      Nashville Gospel Ministries, 1988).  To download a copy, click here
Zolten, Jerry, “Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You ‘Round: Seventy Years of      Harmony with the Fairfield Four, “  Rejoice!: The Gospel Music Magazine     (Dec/Jan 1991/1992):  3-11.
Zolten, J. Jerome, “The Media-Driven Evolution of the African American Hard      Gospel Style as a Rhetorical Response to Hard Times,” The Howard      Journal of Communications 7, 3 (1996):`185-203.

Media:

Revival, Spring Fed SFR-109 (CD, 2012)
Don't Let Nobody Turn You Round, Acrobat 4205 (CD, 2008)
Masters of Traditional Arts,
Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
The Bells Are Tolling, Ace 771 (CD, 2000)
Standing in the Safety Zone, Warner Brothers 9-26945-2 (CD, 1992)
I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray, Warner Brothers 9-46698-2 (CD, 1997)
Wreckin’ the House, Dead Reckoning DEAR 0009 (CD, 1998)
Dig a Little Deeper, custom recording (cassette, 1989)

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Fisk Jubilee Singers

spiritual singers, Nashville

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2007)

Fisk Jubilee Singers

Photo by Bill Steber


Immediately following the Civil War and Emancipation, Fisk University in Nashville was founded to address the mission of African American education.  Soon after, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were formed and began a long history of worldwide concert touring to raise funds for the university.  They adapted Negro spirituals—the religious folksongs of slavery—to a staged choral style, and through them championed the causes of African American dignity, social betterment, and civil rights.  Both musically and socially, this unique group had profound impact on American cultural history, and after more than 130 years they remain as active and important as ever.  In 2007, the Tennessee Arts Commission initiated an American Masterpieces project to celebrate the spirituals and the Fisk Jubilee Singers with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.  The project has involved Director Paul Kwami and his current group in educational and performance activities to enhance appreciation for their remarkable Tennessee legacy.

To see the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ profile in the 2007 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, go to:

http:www.fiskjubileesingers.org
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/singers/

For further reading, see:

The Fisk Jubilee Singers: Singing Our Song  (Nashville: Tennessee Arts      Commission, 2007).  Click here to download.
Marsh, J.B.T.,  The Story of the Jubilee Singers, Including Their Songs       (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898).
Seroff, Doug, 1988 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program (Nashville:      Nashville Gospel Ministries, 1988).  Click here to download a copy.
-------,  1989 Gospel Arts Day Nashville Program (Nashville: Nashville      Gospel Ministries, 1989).  Click here to download a copy.
Ward, Andrew,  Dark Midnight When I Rise: the Story of the Fisk Jubilee      Singers (New York: Amistad, 2001).

Media:

 Sacred Journey, Sunrise Music Group & Curb Records (CD & DVD, 2007)
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory, PBS Home Video (VHS, 2005)
In Bright Mansions, Curb 78762 (CD, 2003).
Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory, PBS Home Video (DVD 2002?)
Rise, Shine! Fisk Jubilee Singers Live in Concert, Fisk University (CD, 2000)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, Vol. 1 (1909 – 1911),Document DOCD-5533 (CD      reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singers, Vol. 2 (1915 – 1920),DocumentDOCD-5534 (CD      reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singers ,Vol. 3 (1924 – 1940), DocumentDOCD-5535 (CD      reissue, 1997)
American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition, Smithsonian Folkways      SFW40072 (CD, 1994)
The Earliest Negro Vocal Groups, Vol. 5 (1911 – 1926),Document
     DOCD-5613 (CD reissue, 1997)
Fisk Jubilee Singer. Folkways FW02372 (CD reissue, 1955)

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Clara Fodor

needleworker, Linden

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)

Clara Fodor
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Hungarian-born Clara Fodor (1920-2008) immigrated to America as a young woman, and she capped her long career as a quilter and embroiderer by producing a remarkable textile tribute to her adopted country.  After living in New Jersey and Michigan, she moved to Linden, TN, in the 1970s, and eventually completed years of work on a set of 50 meticulously embroidered wall hangings, each dedicated to a different American state.  Each was researched and designed with maps, historic details, scenes, and other colorful graphics.  She later produced a number of other geographic tributes in the same style.  In her prolific output, Fodor overcame poor eyesight that was nearly debilitating.  She donated her state collection to the Tennessee State Museum, and her tribute to Perry County now hangs in a community center in Linden.

To see Clara Fodor’s profile in the 2003 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more information about Clara Fodor, go to:

http://www.perrycountytennessee.com/index.php?option=com_
content&task=view&id=278&Itemid=453

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApZV9JkvlUo
http://www.traditioninnovation.org/artists/fodor.html

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert, “Clara Fodor, 1920-2008,” Tennessee Folklore Society      Bulletin 63, #1/2 (Spr-Fall 2007): 59; reprinted in Folk Art Messenger 
     20, #2 (Summer/Fall, 2008): 32.
Core, Jennifer. “Clara Haluska Fodor’s Wall Hangings: Appliqued,      Embroidered, and Quilted,” Piecework 13, #6 (Nov-Dec 2005): 44-47.

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Roy Harper

old-time singer, Manchester

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2003)

Roy Harper
Photo by Robert Cogswell


As a boy in Coffee County, Roy Harper (1925-   ) was struck by the lure of the railroad and the yodeling songs of Jimmie Rodgers, “The Singing Brakeman.”   He started gaining firsthand experience with both before he was twenty, working railroad jobs in several parts of the country while also performing as an itinerant musician.  During stints in Manchester in the later 1940s and 50s, he became known throughout the region for his partnership with Blake Bynum in the Sand Mountain Boys.  During the 1960s he began recording his huge repertory of both “blue yodels” and sentimental songs, and he also made reputation for himself as a self-taught painter of railroad scenes from his own experience.  Harper performed in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and continues to maintain an active touring schedule at regional festivals and heritage music programs, where he is without peer in preserving the songs and vocal stylings of early country music.

To see Roy Harper’s profile in the 2003 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 60-65.
Wolfe, Charles K., “Roy Harper: The Ways of the Past,” Old-Time Herald      (Aug/Oct 1988): 10-14.
-------, Classic Country: Legends of Country Music (NY: Routledge, 2001),      pp. 285-93.

Media:

In Memory of Jimmie Rodgers, Old Homestead OHCD-4088 (CD)
Country Classics, Old Homestead OHCD-4055 (CD 2007)
One More Ride, Old Homestead OHCD-4038 (CD 2002)
Traditional Instrumental Favorites, Old Homestead OHCD-4037 (CD)
Traditional Favorites of Yesteryear, Old Homestead OHCD-4025 (CD 2000)
Early Country Favorites, Old Homestead OHCD 4016 (CD)
Harper also previously issued many additional LP’s and cassettes on Old      Homestead.

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Bessie Harvey

“outsider” artist, Alcoa

Governor’s Award in the Arts (1994)

Bessie Harvey
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Bessie Harvey (1929-1994) was Tennessee’s most notable self-taught “outsider” artist.  Originally from Georgia, she lived most of her life in Alcoa.  She came to make art late in life as a spiritual calling and a response to hardships, first fashioning sculptural creatures out of found wood, and eventually working in drawing, painting, and clay as well.  By the mid-1980s she’d been “discovered” by collectors and big-city dealers, and for several years she was among the state’s most widely-exhibited artists.  She inferred complex meanings in most of her pieces, some of which depicted biblical characters and themes from African American history and everyday life.  Harvey was posthumously honored by a retrospective exhibit at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 1997.

For more information about Bessie Harvey, go to:

http://sunsite.utk.edu/bessie/
http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=H027aa
http://www.blounttoday.com/news/2008/Oct/09/bessie-harvey-remembered/
http://www.blountweb.com/Expression2/harvey/harvey_bessie.htm

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert, “Two Tennessee Visionaries: Bessie Harvey and Homer      Green,” Folk Art Messenger 4, #4 (Summer 1991): 1, 3-4.
-------, “Sculptor Bessie Harvey Dies at 64,” Folk Art Messenger  8, #1 (Fall      1994): 9.
Gaver, Eleanor E., “Inside the Outsiders,” Art & Antiques 7, #6 (Summer      1990): 72-86, 159, 161, 163.
Lowe, Warren, Baking in the Sun: Visionary Images from the South      (Lafayette, LA: University of Southwest Louisiana, 1987).
Monin, Beth, “Bessie Harvey’s Folk Arts ‘A Gift from God,’” Nashville Banner      (Nov 14, 1989): D-1, 6.
Morris, Shari Cavin, “Bessie Harvey: The Spirit in the Wood,” The Clarion 12,      #2/3 (1987): 44-49.
Moses, Kathy, Outsider Art of the South (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing,      1999), pp. 88-94.
Perry, Paul Wardell, “Bessie Harvey’s Sculpture: The Beast in the Tree Trunk,”      The New Crisis: The Magazine of Opportunities and Ideas 107, #4
     (Jul/Aug 2000): 76-78.
Wardlaw, Alvia, Black Art, Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in      African American Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1989).
Weld, Allison, Dream Singers, Story-Tellers: An African American      Presence (Newark: New Jersey State Museum, 1992), pp. 126, 170,
     206-7.
Wicks, Stephen C., Awakening the Spirits: Art by Bessie Harvey  (Knoxville:      Knoxville Museum of Art, 1997).

Media:

Boneshop of the Heart, by Scott Crocker (film 1991)

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Charles J. Horner

instrument maker, Rockwood

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2009)

Charles J. Horner

Photo by Robert Cogswell


In a long career ,“Jean” Horner (1933-   ) has distinguished himself as an extraordinary musical craftsman, but he didn’t stray far from home in doing it.  For over 40 years he’s made fiddles and mandolins full-time in a shop near the cabin where he was raised in the Westel community on the Cumberland Plateau.  He’s perfected his self-taught skills through resourcefulness and trial-and-error, and his hundreds of instruments have proven their quality in the hands of serious and demanding players, mostly traditional musicians in the surrounding region.  Horner has demonstrated his craft in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and occasionally at other public settings.  He’s also played fiddle in bluegrass bands for years, but most of his creative activity has always taken place at his workbench, where he remains dedicated to making every instrument a little bit better than the last one.

To see Jean Horner’s profile in the 2009 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.

For more about Jean Horner, go to:

http://www.traditioninnovation.org/artists/horner.html
http://charlesjhornerviolins.blogspot.com/
http://www.friendsofthecumberlandtrail.org/history-and-culture/traditional-musicians-gallery/tr+aditional-musicians-of-the-cumberland-trail-corridor/

For further reading, see:

Beck, Ken, “A Master Fiddle Maker,” The Tennessean (January 16, 1996),
     p. 1-2D.
Buckingham, Bob, “Charles Horner:  Fiddle Maker of the Cumberland Plateau,”  Fiddler Magazine 18, #4 (2011-12): 22-25.
Bullard, Helen, “Stradivarius of the Cumberland Plateau,” Tennessee      Conservationist 35, #12 (Dec 1969): 14-15.
-------, Crafts and Craftsmen of the Tennessee Mountains (Falls Church, VA:      The Summit Press Ltd., 1976), pp. 112-13.
Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 72-77.
Venable, Sam, Mountain Hands: A Portrait of Southern Appalachia       (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2000), pp. 92-96.
Wilson, Joe, ed.,  Dixie Frets: Luthiers of the Southeast (Silver Spring, MD:      National Council for the Traditional Arts, 1994).  Click here to download.

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Will Keys

old-time banjo player, Gray

National Heritage Fellowship (1996)

Will Keys

Photo by Don Dudenbostel


Though never a professional, Will Keys (1923-2005) led a life dedicated to old-time instrumental music, and he gained wide acclaim for his precise and understated two-finger banjo style.  Raised in musically rich Upper East Tennessee, Keys was drawn to good melodies and perfected his unusual technique to deliver them effectively.  He was a featured participant in the Tennessee program at the 1986 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife and in 1993 performed nationwide in the Masters of the Banjo tour organized by the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

For Will Key’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1996_06

For more information about Will Keys and his music, go to:

http://www.willkeys.com
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/220
http://www.oldtimeherald.org/here+there/final-notes/will-keys.html
http://www.aca-dla.org/dlamusic/dlamusic.html (search “Keys”)

For further reading, see:

Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 339-40, 721.

Media:

Oldtime Banjo from Blackley Creek, Spring Fed SFR-CGP-005
(DVD reissue, 2010).  Available from http://www.springfedrecords.com/.
Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
A Banjo Original, County CD-2720 (CD, 1997)
Masters of the Banjo, Arhoolie ARH-421-CD (CD, 1994)
Evergreen, Cloudlands CLC006 (cassette, 1992)
Sweet Marie, Bee Balm 301 (cassette)

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Riley “B.B.” King

blues musician, Memphis

National Heritage Fellowship (1991)

Riley "B.B." King


Although he was born in the Mississippi Delta and lived in Las Vegas when awarded the National Heritage Fellowship, B.B. King (1925 -   ) first gained blues celebrity during the many years he spent in Memphis.  He moved to the city in 1947, and his nickname evolved out of his early monicker as the “Beale Street Blues Boy.”  He gained experience as a disc jockey on the famous black radio station WDIA, closely studied guitar and singing styles in the burgeoning rhythm & blues field, and made his first recordings in 1949.  To promote his records, he toured extensively, at first mostly to African American club venues.  By the late 1960s, he was the leading figure in popularizing blues among white rock ‘n roll audiences, continuing to the present day a heavy touring schedule that has embraced blues package tours for black urban audiences and international performances.  A memorable stylist both on guitar and as a singer, King has influenced scores of successors and brought world-wide attention to the blues.

For B.B. King’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1991_08

For more about B.B. King and his recordings, go to:

http://www.bbking.com/
http://www.blues.org/halloffame/inductees.php4?ArtistId=389
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.B._King
http://www.worldblues.com/bbking/prairie/discog.html
http://www.nps.gov/history/delta/blues/people/bb_king.htm

For further reading, see:

Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 349-51, 721.
Keil, Charles,  Urban Blues (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), pp.      66-68.
King, B.B., with David Ritz,  Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B.      King  (NY: Avon Books, 1996).
Kostelanetz, Richard, and Anson John Pope, ed.,  The B.B. King Companion:      Five Decades of Commentary ( NY: Schirmer Books, 1997).

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
See sources above for information about King’s many recordings

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Doyle Lawson

bluegrass musician, Bristol

National Heritage Fellowship (2006)

Doyle Lawson


Doyle Lawson (1944-  ) was born in Ford Town (Sullivan County) and lived in Sneedville as a youngster.  His family sang gospel music, and he also became interested in bluegrass, which he began performing professionally with Jimmy Martin, J.D. Crowe, and the Country Gentlemen.  Having established himself as a leading mandolin player and tenor singer, in 1979 Lawson became a bandleader as well, forming Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.  Based in Bristol, the band is known for tight trio harmonies and a signature bluegrass gospel repertory drawing on both “Southern” and African American gospel styles.  Many former members of his band have gone on to prominent careers of their own, making Lawson one of the most influential, as well as traditional, second generation figures in bluegrass. 

For Doyle Lawson’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2006_04

For more on Doyle Lawson and his recordings, go to:

http://www.doylelawson.com/
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/224
http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/lawson_doyle/artist.jhtml

For further reading, see:

Brantley, Michael, “Doyle Lawson: Light on his Feet, Ready to Fly . . .  Farther,”      Bluegrass Unlimited (June, 2011): 26-30. 
Goldsmith, Tommy, “Doyle Lawson and the Roots of Quicksilver,
     “Bluegrass Unlimited  38, # 11 (May 2004):  40-46. 
Stafford, Tim, “Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver: The Original Band,” in Thomas      Goldsmith, ed., The Bluegrass Reader (Urbana: University of Illinois
     Press, 2004), pp. 247-52.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 292.
McIntyre, Les, “Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver – The First 20 Years,”      Bluegrass Unlimited  34, #12 (June 2000): 36-40.
Orteza, Arsenio, “Rejoice!: Doyle Lawson the Country Gentleman Presses      On,”  Bluegrass Unlimited  28,#5 (Nov 1993): 24-27.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 358.
Weisberger, John, “A Beautiful Life: Doyle Lawson’s Quicksilver Sound,”
     Journal of Country Music 25, #1 (2006): 12-20.
Willis, Barry R,  America’s Music: Bluegrass  (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 316-20.

Media:

See sources above for information about Lawson’s many recordings

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Thomas Maupin

buckdancer, Murfreesboro

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2011)

                                            Photo by TN State Photo Services
     

 

Thomas Maupin (1938-    ) was raised in a farming family in Eagleville known for dancers, in a time when community square dances were still common.  As an exceptional dancer from an early age, he had a special love for the rhythmic flat-foot steps that accompany the social group figures of square dancing. It was not until middle age that Thomas gained notoriety for his buckdancing talent and innovations, when he began entering dance competitions at traditional music events, beginning in the 1970s.  Over the next 30 years, he won over 60 championships throughout Tennessee and the South.  More recently, Thomas has been less concerned with titles than with inspiring more appreciation for his dance heritage through exhibition performances, workshops, and teaching, often accompanied by his grandson Daniel Rothwell, who’s developed into a fine old-time banjo player.

 

To see Thomas Maupin’s profile in the 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.

For further reading, see:

Cogswell, Robert, Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies
         (Nashville: Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 90-95
Gunderson, Linda, “Thomas Maupin: When I’m A-dancing,” Old Time Herald 10, no. 2
         (Fall, 2005): 8-10.

Media:
Let Your Feet Do the Talking, by Stewart Copeland (film, 2008; DVD  distributed by
         Dust-to-Digital, 2010).  
See http://www.thomascandance.com/.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So0yUKhnlHI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqvSLEIhvQg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4-FX7ui0oM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MviECaihZLY&feature=related

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Del McCoury

bluegrass singer, Nashville

National Heritage Fellowship (2010)

Brownie McGhee

Photo courtesy of McCoury Music


Del McCoury (1939-    ) is a Pennsylvania native who was drawn to bluegrass music at an early age and was most active for years in the Mid-Atlantic region.  In 1963 he came to Nashville for a stint with Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys.  That experience led McCoury to convert from banjo to guitar as his primary instrument, and to realize the potential of his powerful tenor voice, which was ideally suited to Monroe’s “High Lonesome Sound.”  McCoury returned to Pennsylvania and made ends meet with work as a logger while continuing to pursue music.  For a time he was known for tight harmony singing with his brother Jerry.  As bluegrass festivals spread across the country into the 1970s, Del fronted his own band --The Dixie Pals--and gained prominence as a staunch traditionalist among up-and-coming figures in the field.   During the 1980s, his sons joined the band, first Ronnie on mandolin and later Rob on banjo.  In 1992 the group relocated to Nashville and initiated a more ambitious national career as The Del McCoury Band.   The McCourys have distinguished themselves by developing new musical material from many sources while preserving the intensity and acoustic drive of first-generation bluegrass.  The band has been especially successful in reaching new, youthful audiences identified with the “Americana” music movement, but it’s also maintained a strong presence in the conventional country music industry, joining the Grand Ole Opry in 2003.  An active schedule of recording and touring has brought a host of Grammys and other national awards in recent years.  Now one of the style’s most distinguished and successful veterans, Del McCoury has made a profound impact on his traditional music form and on public appreciation for it.

For Del McCoury’s  National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2010_05&type=bio

For more about Del McCoury and his recordings, go to:

http://www.delmccouryband.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Del_McCoury

For further reading, see:

Devan, Brett F., "Del McCoury Band: State-of-the-Arts Bluegrass Purists,"      Bluegrass Unlimited  24, # 14 (August 1990): 19-25.
Ewing, Tom, ed., The Bill Monroe Reader (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 2000), pp. 219-21.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed., The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), p. 335.
Rosenberg, Neil V., Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 182-84.
-------, and Charles K. Wolfe, The Music of Bill Monroe  (Music in      American Life Series) (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007), pp. 148-
      52.
Smith, Richard D.  Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life of Bill Monroe,          Father of Bluegrass (Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2001), pp. 188-94.
Snyder, Eugenia, "Del McCoury, Low Key but Powerful,"
         Bluegrass Unlimited 16, # 11 (May 1982): 17-24.
Taylor, Gwen, "Del McCoury," Bluegrass Unlimited 7, #12 (June 1973):
      17-19.

Media:

http://www.delmccouryband.com/store.cfm
http://www.ibiblio.org/hillwilliam/BGdiscography/

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Brownie McGhee

blues musician, Knoxville & Kingsport

National Heritage Fellowship (1982)

Brownie McGhee

Photo courtesy of Blues Archive, U of MS


Brownie McGhee (1915-1996) was among the first group of artists to receive the National Heritage Fellowship.  A blues guitarist and singer, McGhee lived in Oakland, California, at the time of his award, but was born in Knoxville and raised in Kingsport.  He gained much of his early experience in Tennessee, street singing and performing in traveling shows.  His brother, Sticks McGhee, is also a native Tennessee bluesman of note.  Brownie began his long career as a recording artist in Chicago in the early 1940s.  He is best known for his partnership with harmonica player Sonny Terry, and together they gained wide popularity during the folk revival of the 1960s.

For Brownie McGhee’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1982_06

For more about Brownie McGhee and his recordings, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownie_McGhee
http://www.myspace.com/browniemcghee
http://facstaff.unca.edu/sinclair/piedmontblues/mcghee.html
http://www.discogs.com/artist/Brownie+McGhee
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/231

For further reading, see:

Bastian, Bruce,  Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast       (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986).
Elmes, Barry, “Living Blues Interview: Brownie McGhee,” Living Blues 13      (Summer 1973): 18-23.
-------,  “Living Blues Interview: Brownie McGhee,” Living Blues 13 (Fall 1973):      14-18.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 409-12, 725.
Greenberg, Mark, “Brownie McGhee: Blues Legend Who Won’t Quit,” Frets 4      (July 1982): 30-33.
McGhee, Brownie, and Michael Brooks, “Brownie McGhee on Playing the      Blues,” Guitar Player 7 (Oct 1975): 24-26.
Traum, Happy, ed., Guitar Styles of Brownie McGhee (New York: Oak      Publications 1971).

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
See sources above for information about McGhee’s many recordings

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Jim & Jesse McReynolds

bluegrass musicians, Gallatin

National Heritage Fellowship (1997)

Jim & Jesse McReynolds


Brothers Jim (1927-2002) and Jesse (1929-   ) McReynolds were raised in a very musical family in the southwestern Virginia mountains.  They sang and played together from an early age, developing their variations on the brother-duet pairing popular at the time, with Jim playing guitar and singing tenor and Jesse playing mandolin and singing lead.  They pursued professional aspirations by the late 1940s, playing radio stations and live performances through the South, adopting the acoustic ensemble format of the then-new bluegrass style and becoming known for close vocal harmonies.  In 1964 they moved to the Nashville area to join the Grand Ole Opry and with their Virginia Boys enjoyed success as one of the top groups in the burgeoning bluegrass style, aided by a distinctive repertory and Jesse’s innovative mandolin playing.  Since Jim’s death, Jesse has continued to be musically active, often performing with younger members of his family.

For Jim & Jesse McReynold’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1997_08

For more on Jim & Jess and their recordings, go to:

http://www.jimandjesse.com/
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/232
http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/jim_jesse/artist.jhtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_&_Jesse

For further reading, see:

Cardwell, Nancy, “Jesse McReynolds -  The Next Chapter,” Bluegrass      Unlimited   38, #12 (June 2004):  30-34.
Ewing, Tom, “Jim & Jesse -  50 Years and the Future is Just Beginning,”      Bluegrass Unlimited 32, #1 (July 1997): 16-21.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 424-25, 726.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 264-65.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 314-25.
Stubbs, Eddie, “ Jim McReynolds, 1927-2002, “Bluegrass Unlimited  37, # 8      (Feb 2003):  24-25. 
Willis, Barry R.  America’s Music: Bluegrass (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 204-9.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
See sources above for information about Jim & Jesse’s many recordings

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Bill Monroe

bluegrass musician, Nashville

National Heritage Fellowship (1982)

Bill Monroe
Photo by Robert Cogswell


Known as “The Father of Bluegrass Music,” Bill Monroe (1911-1996) was among the first group of  National Heritage Fellowship recipients.  Born in Kentucky, Monroe was based in Nashville for most of his very long career after joining the  the Grand Ole Opry in 1939.  He named his band “The Blue Grass Boys” after his home state, and the term gradually became associated with the type of music he developed and popularized.  Under Monroe’s leadership and his excellence as a mandolin player, singer, and writer, bluegrass evolved into a rigorous new variety of music that reinvigorated Appalachian string band and vocal traditions for modern musicians and audiences.

For Bill Monroe’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1982_09

For more about Bill Monroe and his recordings, go to:

http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/monroe_bill/artist.jhtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Monroe

There are far too many printed and internet sources about Bill Monroe to be listed here.  For further reading, the following are some of the best books about him:

Ewing, Tom, ed.,  The Bill Monroe Reader  (Music in American Life Series)      (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).
Goldsmith, Thomas, “50 Years and Counting: Bill Monroe Drives On,”       Journal of Country Music 13, #1 (1989): 14-19, reprinted in Paul
     Kingsbury, ed., The Country Reader: Twenty-Five Years of the
     Journal of Country Music
(Nashville: Country Music Foundation &
     Vanderbilt University Press, 1996), pp. 111-20.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 450-52, 728.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.,  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 350-52.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 40-68ff.
-------, and Charles K. Wolfe,  The Music of Bill Monroe  (Music in American      Life Series) (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007).
Smith, Richard D., “William Smith Monroe, 1911-1996,” Bluegrass Unlimited       31, #4 (Oct 1996): 30-34.
-------,  Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life of Bill Monroe, Father of      Bluegrass (Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2001).
Willis, Barry R.,  America’s Music: Bluegrass  (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 102-31.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
High Lonesome Sound: The Story of Bluegrass Music, by Rachael Liebling,      Shanachie (VHS 1994)
Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music, by Steve Gebhardt, Original Cinema      (VHS 1993)
The Mandolin of Bill Monroe, Homespun Videos (DVD Set 1992?)
See sources above for information about Monroe’s many recordings

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Newberry & Sons Chairs

chairmakers, Red Boiling Springs

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2009)

Newberry & Sons Chairs


In the quiet Jennings Creek community, Louie Newberry (1943-   ) has raised his sons Terry (1967-   ) and Mark (1969-   ) to work alongside him in preserving Tennessee’s oldest family craft tradition.  Newberrys were building chairs here before the Civil War, and Louie’s father Dallas Newberry (1892-1989) was the living link between that history and today’s family shop.  Dallas built chairs for over 80 years, and his old-time way of doing things lives on in the design patterns, techniques, and standards of workmanship still characteristic of this farm-based shop.  Chair timber is harvested and milled on their own land, and some features of their chairs—such as lean posts, hickory bark bottoms­, and bent backs—remain little-changed from the 19th century.   But Newberry & Sons has also incorporated changes that are in keeping with their tradition, just as they currently seek new ways to find customers and remain a viable operation for the future.

To see Newberry & Sons’ profile in the 2009 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.

For more about the Newberrys, go to:

http://www.newberryandsonschairs.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF8RkTP8ZFU
http://www.traditioninnovation.org/artists/newberry.html

For further reading, see:

Alligood, Leon, “Craftsmen make ladderbacks like their dads did,” The      Tennessean (July 28, 1992), p. B1.
Buchanan, Curtis, “Appalachian Chairmakers: Tradition and Revival,”      Woodwork 69 (Jun 2001): 48-53.
Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 102-7.
-------,, “The Newberry Chair Tradition.” Click here to download.
Fugua, Arthur G., “The Old Hickory Rock,” Tennessee Conservationist 38,
     # 2 (Feb 1972): 8-9.
“Grant Helps Newberry Family Continue Chairmaking Tradition,” Arts      Tennessee (Fall 2008): 8. Click here to download.
Hire, Sandra,” Newberry and Son’s Chairs: The Fifth Generation,” Tennessee      Magazine (Apr 1994): 16-18, 22.
Montell, William Lynwood, Upper Cumberland Country (Jackson: University      Press of Mississippi, 1993), pp. 48-50.


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Earl Scruggs

bluegrass banjo player, Madison

National Heritage Fellowship (1989)
Governor’s Award in the Arts (1994)

Earl Scruggs

Photo by Dan Loftin


Born in Shelby, North Carolina, Earl Scruggs (1924 - 2012  ) took up a new regional style of three-finger banjo picking and made it his own.  As a young professional in Bill Monroe’s band in 1946, he defined banjo playing in what was soon known as bluegrass, and over a long career became one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.  In 1948 he began a partnership with Lester Flatt, another member of Monroe’s pivotal band, as Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, and they joined the Grand Ole Opry and adopted Nashville as their base of operations in 1955.  They were arguably the most popular representatives of the bluegrass style in country music circles and, thanks to the folk music revival, among new audiences through the 1960s.  After the group disbanded in 1969, he played with his sons in the Earl Scruggs Review for a number of years.   For his role in revolutionizing traditional music, Scruggs has since enjoyed decades as one of America’s most acclaimed musical celebrities.

For Earl Scrugg’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1989_11

For more about Earl Scruggs and his recordings, go to:

http://www.earlscruggs.com/
http://www.flatt-and-scruggs.com/
http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/scruggs_earl/artist.jhtml
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/202
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Scruggs

For further reading, see:

Godbey, Marty, “The Artistry and Accomplishments of Earl Scruggs,”      Bluegrass Unlimited  31, #2 (Aug 1996): 56-63.
Goldsmith, Tommy, “Banjo Man – Musical Journey of Earl Scruggs,”      Bluegrass Unlimited  39, #10 (Apr 2005): 15.  
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 549-50, 733.
Irwin, John Rice.  A People and Their Music: The Story Behind the Story of      Country Music (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 2000), pp. 179-95.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 474.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 68-91.
Wernick, Pete, “Earl Eugene Scruggs (January 6, 1924-March 28, 2012),”      Bluegrass Unlimited  46, #11 (May 2012):  22-34.
Willis, Barry R., America’s Music: Bluegrass  (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 178-89.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
See sources above for information about Scruggs’s many recordings

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Robert Spicer

buckdancer, Dickson

National Heritage Fellowship (1990)

Robert Spicer

Photo by Robert Cogswell


Raised in Dickson County’s thriving music and dance tradition, Robert Spicer (1921-2002) became a master of flat-foot buckdancing, the fancy individual stepwork often associated with the group figures of squaredancing.  Spicer was part of the first generation to professionalize this form of community social dancing in exhibition settings, performing in troupes on the Grand Ole Opry and other performance stages.  As a group leader, he increasingly became involved in teaching young dancers.  Beginning in the 1950s, he trained several generations of dancers from his part of Middle Tennessee.  Spicer’s Dickson County Squaredancers performed widely across the state and were known for preserving traditional buckdance styles and steps, although many of his students went on to dance professionally in more choreographed clogging troupes. 

For Robert Spicer’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1990_11

For further reading, see:

Beasley, Kay.  “Meet Mr. Spicer,” Steppin’ In Time (Old-Time Music and Dance      Foundation) 1, #1 (Fall, 1987): 1, 7-8.
Christian, Jackie.  Robert T. Spicer -  Flatfoot Buckdancer,” Steppin’ In Time      (Old-Time Music and Dance Foundation) 1,#2 (Winter,  1988): 1, 3, 5-8.
-------.  “Robert T. Spicer,” Steppin’ In Time (Old-Time Music and Dance      Foundation) 1, #3 (Spring, 1988): 1, 3-4, 7, 11.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 582-83, 735.

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)

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Spirit of Memphis Quartet

gospel group, Memphis

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2001)

Spirit of Memphis Quartet

Photo by Jed DeKalb


One of the oldest continually active African American gospel groups in the country, the Spirit of Memphis Quartet was founded in 1930.  During their first few years, they were among the only black musical groups prominent on local radio.  As a capella quartet singing surged in national popularity, the Spirit of Memphis took the name of their hometown across the country, regularly singing, as they did at home, in church and auditorium programs.  After World War II they also enjoyed a successful recording career for many years, experiencing personnel changes which brought into the group some of the most renowned singers in the quartet genre.  In recent decades the group has remained active under the able leadership of Melvin Mosely, performing often in local programs and heritage music events.

To see the Spirit of Memphis Quartet’s profile in the 2001 Governor’s Awards in the Arts program, click here.

For more information about the Spirit of Memphis, go to:
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/the_spirit_of_memphis_quartet

For further reading, see:

Hayes, Cedric J., and Robert Laughton, Gospel Records 1943-1969      (London: Record Information Services, 1993), pp. 697-700.
Lornell, Kip, "Happy in the Service of the Lord":  Afro-American Gospel      Quartets in Memphis  (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).
-------, “Successes of the Spirit,” in Ted Olson and Anthony P. Cavender, eds.,      A Tennessee Folklore Sampler: Selections from the Tennessee      Folklore Society Bulletin (1935-2009),  (Knoxville: Univeristy of Tennessee      Press, 2009).  pp. 292-96.
Young, Alan, “Moving With the Spirit,” Rejoice!: The Journal of Traditional      Southern Gospel Music 5, #1 (Winter 1994): 3-8.
-------, Woke Me Up This Morning: Black Gospel Singers and the Gospel      Life (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1997): 67-77.

Media:

Happy in the Service of the Lord (1949-54), Acrobat 3007 (CD, 2005)
Traveling On, High Water HMG 6507(CD 1997)
Lord Jesus, Nasha LKP-001 (LP)
Legend of the Spirit of Memphis, Randy’s Spiritual (LP 1968)
If I Should Miss Heaven, Peacock PLP 109 (LP 1961)
New Horizon, ALP 7005.

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Alex Stewart

cooper/woodworker, Sneedville

National Heritage Fellowship (1983)

Alex Stewart

Photo by Roy Overcast


Alex Stewart (1891- 1985) lived in the remote Panther Creek community of Hancock County, and it was not until late in his life that he became known as “America’s last living cooper” for making staved cedar buckets, churns, and tubs.  The craft was only one of many folk skills and bodies of knowledge that he had mastered.  Also a chairmaker and woodcarver, Stewart exemplified the resourceful self-sufficiency of traditional Appalachian farm life.

For Alex Stewart’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1983_12)

For further reading, see:

Alex Stewart: Mountain Man (exhibit catalog) (Oak Ridge, TN: Children’s      Museum of Oak Ridge, 1980).
Brunson, Laurie, “Butter Churns,” in  Eliot Wigginton, ed.,  Foxfire 3
     
(Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1975),  pp. 269-97.
Cogswell, Robert,  Tradition: Tennessee Lives & Legacies (Nashville:      Tennessee Arts Commission, 2010), pp. 138-43.
Elick, Catherine, “Artisan and Apprentice: A Master Cooper Conserves his Craft,”      Tennessee Conservationist 50, #6 (Nov/Dec 1984):  8-12.
Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary
      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 598-600, 736.
Greear, Veronica, “The Legacy of the Last Traditional Cooper,” Tennessee      Conservationist 71, #6 (Nov/Dec 2005): 30-33.
Henry, Bill, “Alex Stewart: A Personal Reminiscence,”  Tennessee Folklore      Society Bulletin  67, #2 (June 1981): 48-66.
Irwin, John Rice,  Alex Stewart: Portrait of a Pioneer  (West Chester, PA:      Schiffer Publishing Co., 1985).

Media:

Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
Alex Stewart, Cooper, by Thomas Burton (film, 1973).  Can now be viewed      online at http://www.folkstreams.net/film,224.

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Charles Towler

Convention gospel publisher, songwriter, and teacher, Cleveland

Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2011)

     
     

As a songwriter, publisher, singing school teacher, and quartet singer, Charles Towler (1939-    ) has over a long career established himself as one of the leading national figures in gospel convention singing.  This type of participatory religious music, making use of seven-shape, or “Doremi” notation, has been sustained in protestant churches throughout the South for over a century.  As a publisher Towler was associated with two Tennessee firms important to its history, the James D. Vaughn Company of Lawrenceburg, and the Tennessee Music and Printing Company of Cleveland—and has published over 70 convention songbooks.  In over 50 years as a songwriter, he has composed and published some 450 original songs, including the classic “His Blood Has Made Us One.”  He spends many weeks annually teaching the sight-reading skills essential to the tradition, and he also travels widely performing with his Gospel Heritage Quartet and promoting the new songbooks of his own Gospel Heritage Music company.

 

To see Charles Towler’s profile in the 2011 Governor’s Arts Awards program, click here.

For more about Charles Towler, go to:

http://ngsgm.com/page2/page9/towler.html

For further reading, see:

Charles L. Towler, Celebrating 50 Years of Songwriting
     
(Cleveland, TN: Gospel Heritage Quartet, 2010).
http://popmusic.mtsu.edu/gospel.html

Media:

I’ll Keep on Singing: The Southern Gospel Convention Singing Tradition, video documentary by Stephen Shearon and Mary Nichols (DVD; Middle Tennessee State University, 2010). Available from http://www.mtsu.edu/music/keeponsinging.shtml.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Whdt_id_iDY&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I54uPvtdsvc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd3YOwTjFJIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAvMJ2KSpB4&feature=related

 

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Mac Wiseman

bluegrass singer, Nashville

National Heritage Fellowship (2008)

Mac Wsieman

Photo by Dan Loftin


Mac Wiseman (1925-   ) was born in Virginia and had a long career in country and bluegrass music before coming to Nashville in 1969.  After stints in the bands of Molly O’Day, Bill Monroe, and Flatt & Scruggs, Wiseman was the only bluegrass pioneer to distinguish himself as an independent singer, known for his pleasant tenor voice and melodic sentimental songs.  Also a strong guitarist, Wiseman enjoyed a varied career in radio, the recording industry, and live performance before becoming a fixture at bluegrass festivals beginning in the late 1960s.  He continues to be a popular senior statesman of bluegrass, keeping a deep repertory of traditional songs active in the genre.

For Mac Wiseman’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=2008_10

For more on Mac Wiseman and his recordings, go to:

http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/wiseman_mac/artist.jhtml
http://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/node/260

For further reading, see:

Ewing, Tom, “Mac Wiseman: Giving Something Back,”  Bluegrass Unlimited      32,  #10 (April 1998):  40-43.
Goldsmith, Tommy, “’It Was the Singing’ – A Conversation with Mac      Wiseman,” Bluegrass Unlimited  40, # 8 (Feb 2006):  24- 27.  
Irwin, John Rice.  A People and Their Music: The Story Behind the Story of      Country Music (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Co., 2000), pp. 156-77.
Kingsbury, Paul, ed.  The Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Oxford      University Press, 1998), pp. 597.
Rosenberg, Neil V.,  Bluegrass: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois      Press, 1985), pp. 116-17.
Willis, Barry R.,  America’s Music: Bluegrass  (Franktown, CO: Pine Valley      Music, 1992), pp. 194-96.
Wiseman, Mac, with Paul F. Wells, “From Grass Roots to Bluegrass: Some      Personal Reminiscences,” in Thomas Goldsmith, ed., The Bluegrass      Reader (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), pp. 61-65.

Media:

See sources above for information about Wiseman’s many recordings

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Nimrod Workman

ballad singer, Mascot

National Heritage Fellowship award (1986)

Nimrod Workman

photo from Phyllis Boyens-Liptak

Born in Kentucky, Nimrod Workman (1895-1994) spent most of his life as a coal miner in West Virginia before moving to East Tennessee, where he lived at the time of his heritage award.  A strong a capella Appalachian singer, Workman sang both traditional mountain ballads and labor songs from his decades of union activism. 

For Nimrod Workman’s National Heritage Fellowship profile, go to
http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/fellow.php?id=1986_13

For more about Nimrod Workman, go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrod_Workman
http://roothogordie.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/nimrod-workman/
http://www.folkstreams.net/principal,174

For further reading, see:

Govenar, Alan, Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary      (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001), pp. 689-91, 741.

Media:

I Want to Go Where Things are Beautiful, Drag City DC 379 / 2&F#001 (CD/LP      2008)
Masters of Traditional Arts, Documentary Arts (CD-Rom, 2002)
Mother Jones’ Will, Rounder 0076 (LP 1978)
Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category, Appalshop, Anthony Slone and      Scott Faulkner, directors (film 1975)
Passing Thru the Garden, June Appal JA0001 (LP 1974)

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