Our intent is to

  • recognize, 
  • document, 
  • investigate, 
  • preserve, 
  • honor, and 
  • enrich the Appalachian region's musical traditions and the musicians who practice their art. 

We will contribute to a growing body of knowledge of the diversity of musical traditions that intersect in Appalachia. Our work is timely--the oldest generation that is passing bears witness to musical traditions learned from practitioners from the early decades of the last century, who also recall the influences that shaped the contemporary musical world, from music learned knee-to-knee in families and in community and religious gatherings, to the advent of the radio and commercial recordings in every American home, to the folk music revival of the 1960s, to the recent interest in traditional music.

We need to document musicians' styles and repertoires. We also need to know how they learned their art, where they listened and learned, how they chose a particular instrument, who gave them a song, who they heard that inspired them, who they sang or played with, what venues existed--the answers to these and other questions can inform our understanding of the place of music in our communities, our region, and our regional and national culture, and the passing of these traditions to present and future generations.

Our local and regional communities boast musicians of national renown representing a range of traditions from:

  • ballads, 
  • shaped note songs, 
  • traditional string bands,
  •  bluegrass, 
  • to gospel and country, including African-American as well as European-American traditions. 

Yet many of them are not well documented. Some of our most important musicians are not widely recognized, and their sounds demand documentation, their stories need telling. Archival documentation and scholarly treatment of these important music traditions have both regional and national significance.

With endowment funds, we plan to bring musicians to our campus to record their artistry and their stories, and to inform our students. We also plan to take our research to the communities where musicians live, work, and play. Our first priority is to support practitioners, and we also hope to support music scholarship (through research grants), and instruction (through visiting artists and faculty appointments), that will focus and generate careful treatment of Appalachian music.

For curriculum information: go to https://interdisciplinary.appstate.edu/appalachian-studies.

Contact Katherine Ledford: 828-262-4089, ledfordle@appstate.edu

Appalachian Music faculty include:

  • Dr. Gary Boye, Assistant Librarian, Broyhill Music Center
  • Dr. Cece Conway, Professor, English
  • Mr. Mark Freed, Adjunct Instructor, Music
  • Dr. Jim Goff, Professor, History
  • Dr. Fred Hay, Librarian, W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection/Professor
  • Mr. Alex Hooker, Adjunct Instructor, Appalachian Studies

Our students have already accomplished much in this area. Recent (in most cases) graduates of the MA program whose thesis or current work includes Appalachian music include:

  • Ed Cabbell, West Virginia African-American mountain/blues, founder of the John Henry Memorial Foundation and Edward J. Cabbell Scholarship in Appalachian Studies
  • Mark Freed, Watauga County folklorist, teaches AS/MUS 2016 Appalachian Music on campus
  • Rhonda Gouge, music instructor in Bakersville, NC
  • Mary Greene, Watauga County multi-talented musician, educator, organizer
  • Alex Hooker, teaches AS/MUS 2016 Appalachian Music on campus; works with luthier Alfred Michels, Solitude Violin Shop
  • Eddie Huffman, Ph.D. student in Folklore at UNC-CH; thesis on the secular instrumental and Baptist hymn-singing tradition of Jack McGinnis
  • Philip Jamison, Coordinator of Appalachian Music at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC; thesis on southern Appalachian square dance
  • Trish Kilby-Fore, native Ashe County banjoist and Assistant Director/Technical Services Librarian at the Galax Public Library
  • Cassie Robinson, Coordinator, Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies, Mars Hill; thesis on Madison County ballad and country music singer, Earl Silvers
  • Suzanne Savell, Traditional Music Coordinator at Appalshop Film Studios
  • Deb Thompson, Ph.D candidate, Geography, UKY, with a dissertation on the spacial organization of traditional music