During the creative explosion that was country music in the 1990s, Suzy Bogguss sold 4 million records with sparkling radio hits like “Outbound Plane”, “Someday Soon”, “Letting Go”, and “Drive South”. But you can’t peg Suzy that easily. In the midst of her country popularity she took time off to make a duets album with the legendary Chet Atkins. In 2003 she made an album of modern swing music with Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel. An album of original music in 2007 landed her at number 4 on the jazz charts and her folk music roots show through in her frequent appearances on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, in the Grammy she earned for her work on Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster, and in her critically acclaimed album and book project from 2011, American Folk Songbook. In 2014, she released Lucky, a collection of songs written by Merle Haggard and interpreted through Suzy’s crystal vocals from the female point of view. Her latest offering, Aces Redux, is a re-recording of her platinum-selling album Aces, produced by Suzy with fresh arrangements and her signature effortless vocals. So yes, you can call her a country singer if you want, but really that’s just part of the story.
Reggie Harris is an insightful songwriter and performer who has been a vibrant part of the international folk and acoustic music scene for over 40 years. An innovative guitarist, storyteller and lecturer, Reggie travels extensively around the world using music and the spoken word to impact education, human and civil rights and the environment. He is a Woodrow Wilson Scholar and the Director of Music Education for the UU Living Legacy Project, leading civil rights pilgrimages in the southern US. He also averages over 250 performances a year in the US, Canada and Europe. A 30-plus year teaching artist in the John F Kennedy Center’s CETA program, Reggie has also taught songwriting, performance and music history workshops at the John F. Kennedy Center Summer Institute, Common Ground on the Hill, the WUMB Summer Acoustic Music Camp (SAMW) Summersongs and numerous other conferences and venues including several years at the Gathering. With the 2018 release of his chart topping CD, Ready to Go, Reggie has greatly enhanced his role as a musical community builder with a passion for creativity, global peace and justice.
County Antrim’s Len Graham has been a full-time professional traditional singer since 1982. After he won the All-Ireland Traditional Singing competion in 1971, his passion for the songs of his native Ulster began to grow with his reputation. Len sought out and recorded older singers, and published a book, Here I Am Amongst You, on the songs, dance music and traditions of Joe Holmes. He was a founding member of the group Skylark, with whom he toured extensively for ten years and recorded four albums. In 1993, he released his book and field recording collection, It’s Of My Rambles. Over the years, Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers. His association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience, and their work together over twenty years made a significant contribution toward creating a deeper cross-community understanding of shared cultural traditions during many years of conflict in the north of Ireland. Len has recorded numerous albums, performed at many Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, and appeared on many radio and television programs. In 1992, he received the Seán O’Boyle Cultural Traditions Award in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honoured as the first recipient of the Irish television TG4 National Music Award for “Traditional Singer Of the Year.” In 2008, he was awarded “Keeper of the Tradition” from the Tommy Makem Festival of Traditional Song, and the US Irish Music Award in the “Sean-Nós Singing” category. In 2011, he was awarded the Gradam na mBard CCÉ (CCÉ Bardic Award) at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Julee Glaub Weems, the Coordinator of Traditional Song Week, is a North Carolina native who studied literature and music at Wake Forest University before following her longstanding interest in Irish culture to work with the poor in Dublin. For nearly seven years, she continued her work in Dublin while sitting at the feet of master players and singers, absorbing all she could. She credits the combination of material from older singers and from the Traditional Music Archive, and her experiences in working with poor and working people in Dublin as the major inspirations for her ballad singing. Upon returning home, she became involved in the Irish music scene here in the states and has become recognized as a leading interpreter of Irish songs in America. She lived in the northeast for seven years in order to be closer to the heartbeat of Irish music in the major Irish-American enclaves in Boston and New York, and performed with the band Séad (Brian Conway, Brendan Dolan, and Jerry O’Sullivan) with whom she still performs from time to time, as well as with Pete Sutherland, Dáithí Sproule, and Tony Ellis. Her latest solo release, Blue Waltz, explores her interest in the connections between Irish and Appalachian song and has been featured on NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock. Now based in Durham, NC, she and her husband, Mark Weems, tour as a duo called Little Windows, which blends Irish, Appalachian, and old-time gospel with a focus on tight harmonies in unaccompanied singing. Julee has been on staff at the Irish Arts Week in N.Y., Alaska Fiddle Camp, Schloss Mittersill Arts Conference in Austria, the Swannanoa Gathering’s Celtic Week, Camp Little Windows and various camps and festivals throughout the US. Julee’s approach to music goes beyond its entertainment aspect to focus on the spiritual and emotional wealth that traditional music has to offer to the world. For her, Traditional Song Week is a long-awaited dream come true.
Nuala is known for her creative reworking and reimagining of traditional songs and for her unique Irish flute style, formed in Dundalk, County Louth and honed in her long-time adopted home of Edinburgh, Scotland. With four solo albums to her credit, Nuala is a musical adventurer who is known world-wide as a superlative performer of traditional music. She has graced the cover of Irish Music Magazine, Sing Out! and regularly appears on the mainstage at festivals around the world. Her roots are first and foremost in Irish music, but she ‘something of a genre bender’ according to the Living Tradition magazine and this year released a live album with two Norwegian musicians as Snowflake Trio. Nuala performs with Oirialla, playing music from her native area alongside fiddler Gerry O’ Connor, and with The Alt (John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary).
Karl Scully was a member for six years of the famous international group, The Irish Tenors, with whom he performed in hundreds of venues in Europe and the USA as well as recorded two albums which went to #1 on Billboard’s charts. On TV, Karl hosted the 10-part TV show The Irish Tenors and Friends which aired on PBS and Ireland’s RTE networks. In 2018 he joined The Wizards of Winter, a winter rock band, along with ex members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult and Ted Nugent bands. Acting credits include Count John McCormack in the indie hit film Nora with Ewan McGregor, and Bartel D’Arcy in the Irish Repertory Theatre’s The Dead 1904. Karl is classically trained and has performed as a soloist in numerous venues all over the world including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer/David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center, Wolftrap Mainstage in Virginia, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa Italy, Hôtel de Ville in Paris, and The National Concert Hall, Ireland. He holds a Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and some of his operatic roles include: Don José in Carmen by Bizet; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly; The Duke in Rigoletto; The Witch in Hansel and Gretel; MacHeath in Beggars Opera; Albert in Albert Herring; King Ouf in L’etoile; Paolino in Il Matrimonio Segreto; Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutte; and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Karl has been a recipient of the prestigious Liberace Scholarship and the Mae Zenke Orvis Endowed Opera Scholarship.
Mark Weems is a multi-instrumental music teacher and professional performer of traditional music. He hails from Alabama, but currently lives in Durham, NC. A well-known figure on the North Carolina traditional country and old-time scene, he has been singing and studying the nuances of all types of country music for twenty-five years as a veteran of the The Stillhouse Bottom Band, and his own honky-tonk band, the Cave Dwellers. Sing Out! magazine called him “an exceptionally talented interpreter of old-time vocal and instrumental tunes” and “a gifted composer of timeless music.” Since 2005, he has toured with his wife, Julee Glaub Weems, as the duo Little Windows, which performs a mix of Irish, Old-Time, Country, and Gospel. In 2009, he created the North Carolina School of Traditional Music, which facilitates the local dissemination of the Celtic, Piedmont, and Appalachian musical traditions of the state. In 2013, he co-founded the Old Jonny Booker Band which re-creates Early American music popular between 1820 and 1865 on period instruments and in period dress. His music has been heard at Merlefest and highlighted on NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock, and The State of Things. He has performed with former Bluegrass Boy Tony Ellis, Daithi Sproule (Altan), Pete Sutherland (Metamora), Alice Gerrard (Hazel and Alice), and Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky).
Matt Watroba has spent most of his adult life sharing his knowledge and passion for folk music with just about anyone who would listen. As a performer, Matt has delivered thousands of shows in just about every imaginable setting. As a song leader, he is committed to inspiring or facilitating at least 100 community sings every year somewhere in the country. In 2019, Matt was inducted into the Folk DJ Hall Of Fame as part of the Folk Alliance International conference in Montreal, honoring three decades of producing folk radio locally in Michigan, as well as in syndication all over the world. He currently hosts and produces the show Folk With Matt Watroba for Michigan State Public Media. In addition, Matt is a published writer, an inspiring teacher, and co-founder (along with Rev. Robert Jones) of the non-profit, Common Chords – a company devoted to celebrating diversity and connecting community to music and the arts.
Dr. Kathy Bullock is a professor of music at Berea College, in Berea, KY where she has worked for the past twenty-four years. She earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in Music Theory from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and a B.A. in Music from Brandeis University, MA. She teaches Music Theory, African-American Music, Ethnomusicology, General Studies courses, directs the Black Music Ensemble, (an eighty-voice choir that specializes in performance of African-American sacred music) and has designed and completed new study abroad programs for Berea College students traveling to Zimbabwe, Ghana and Jamaica. She gives numerous presentations, performances, lectures and workshops on such subjects as “Singing in the Spirit,” “From Negro Spirituals to Jamaican Revival Songs,” “African-American Sacred Music” and “African-American and Appalachian Musical Connections.” She also conducts workshops and other music programs in gospel music and gospel piano at schools, camps, churches and civic organizations in the United States, Europe and Africa.
Josh learned to play fiddle from legendary fiddlers Gordon and Arvil Freeman in his native Madison County, NC. A highly accomplished old-time, bluegrass, and swing musician, he attended East Tennessee State University to study music education, and to be a part of ETSU’s famous Bluegrass & Country Music Program. His fiddling was featured in the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack, and he has toured extensively with a variety of ensembles, including the ETSU bluegrass band, with David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and with several bluegrass bands including Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio, and Josh Goforth and the New Direction. He has shared stages with Ricky Skaggs, Bryan Sutton, The Yonder Mountain String Band, Open Road, and The Steep Canyon Rangers, and performed throughout the US, Europe, and in Japan. In 2000, 2003, and 2005, he was named “Fiddler of the Festival” at Fiddler’s Grove and, after winning his third title, was designated “Master Fiddler” and retired from that competition. He was nominated for a Grammy for his 2009 release with David Holt, entitled Cutting Loose.
Known around the world for his clawhammer banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a powerful guitarist, singer and multiple IBMA Award-winning songwriter. A frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion, he was recently a featured singer on the Transatlantic Sessions tour of the United Kingdom with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas, and at their debut at Merlefest in 2017. In addition to solo work and teaching, he plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton and also performs with the dynamic fiddler and stepdancer April Verch. Joe has taught banjo, guitar, singing, and songwriting at numerous camps and festivals including Ashokan, Midwest Banjo Camp, American Banjo Camp, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Targhee Music Camp, Centrum Voice Works, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Pinewoods Camp, the Australia National Folk Festival, the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week, and the Bluff Country Gathering, and was for many years the coordinator of Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center.
Elizabeth LaPrelle has been performing and studying Appalachian ballads and old-time songs since she was eleven. Raised in Rural Retreat, VA, Elizabeth attended old time fiddlers’ conventions and sang harmonies with her family, who encouraged her to sing their own favorite American folk music. As a teen Elizabeth learned the ‘mountain’ style of singing from mentors Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, which led her to explore archives and field recordings for ancient and little-known songs. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary with a major in Southern Appalachian Traditional Performance, and in 2011 formed the performance duo Anna & Elizabeth, with Anna Roberts-Gevalt. She now tours the US regularly, performing and teaching.
Guitarist Ranger Doug, “Governor of the Great State of Rhythm” and “Idol of American Youth” is best known as the lead singer with Riders in the Sky, the multiple Grammy-winning cowboy quartet and members of the Grand Ole Opry, the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame, the Country Music Foundation’s Walkway of Stars, and the Walk of Western Stars. While remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have themselves become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit, and all along encouraging buckaroos and buckarettes to live life “The Cowboy Way!” A yodeler of breathtaking technique, Ranger Doug is also an award-winning Western music songwriter in his own right – and a distinguished music historian whose 2002 Vanderbilt University Press book, Singing in the Saddle, was the first comprehensive look at the singing cowboy phenomenon that swept the country in the 1930s. In 2006, Ranger Doug’s Classic Cowboy Corral debuted on XM Satellite Radio, still heard weekly on SiriusXM Channel 56. During thirty-six years with the Riders, he has chalked up over 6600 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall, and from the White House and county fairs to the Hollywood Bowl.
Flatpicking guitarist Tim May has been working in the Nashville area for over 30 years as a sideman, session player, band member and performer. He has toured with Patty Loveless, John Cowan, Eddie Rabbitt and Rodney Dillard and regularly performs with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry. Tim was the solo guitarist on Charlie Daniels’ recording of “I’ll Fly Away,” which was nominated for the Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy in 2005. The Nashville Scene selected Tim as Best Instrumentalist in their 2012 Reader’s Chxoice Poll. He is co-author of the eight-volume book/CD course, Flatpicking Essentials, The Guitar Player’s Practical Guide to Scales and Arpeggios, The Mandolin Player’s Practical Guide to Scales and Arpeggios, The Flatpicker’s Guide to Old-Time Music and The Flatpicker’s Guide to Irish Music. He and his wife Gretchen are owners’ of the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee.
From the folk clubs of Scotland in the 1960s and 70s to the festivals, coffeehouses and music camps of America, Ed Miller has steadily established himself as one of the finest Scottish singers of both contemporary and traditional songs. He has been a regular staff member of Swannanoa’s Celtic Week for more than two decades, where his love and knowledge of Scots song, paired with a droll sense of humor, made him an excellent and popular teacher. Originally from Edinburgh, Ed has been based in Austin, TX for many years, where he received a PhD in Folklore from the University of Texas, but over the past 30 years he has gradually moved from academia to full-time performing. He hosts a folk music show on SunRadio.com in Austin, leads folk music tours to Scotland each summer, and has released ten CDs of traditional and contemporary Scottish song, including his most recent, Follow the Music.
Fiona Ritchie has been introducing Americans to Scottish, Irish and other Celtic music every week for more than three and a half decades, through her popular show, The Thistle & Shamrock, on National Public Radio. Scotland’s unofficial cultural ambassador to the United States, she has been described by Murray Horwitz, former vice president of cultural programming at NPR, as “the living embodiment of what is distinctive, wonderful and most valuable about Public Radio”. Singer and broadcaster Archie Fisher has commented: “The Thistle & Shamrock has become a soundtrack for the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. She instinctively knows what connects with her listeners.” Back home in Scotland, Fiona has fronted numerous music programmes for BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 2, as well as partnering with Radio Scotland, in 1993, to launch the world music series, Celtic Connections, serving as an early advisor to the mammoth Glasgow festival of the same name. She has been an advisor to the British Council and the Smithsonian Institute’s Folklife Festival and a trustee of the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust which promotes and supports traditional music. Her championing of Celtic music over the airways has brought Fiona several honours, including an honorary doctorate from St Andrew’s University in North Carolina, a Master Music Maker lifetime achievement award from the Swannanoa Gathering, and medals at the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards. Back in the UK, 2014 saw her awarded an MBE for Services to Broadcasting and Scottish Traditional Music. That same year she enjoyed critical acclaim for Wayfaring Strangers, the New York Times best-seller she co-wrote with Doug Orr, President Emeritus of Warren Wilson College, about how Scots and Irish immigrants brought their music to Appalachia and other regions of the United States. Fiona was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Folk DJ Hall of Fame in 2018. ThistleRadio, her online music channel on SomaFM was named “Best Music Show: Country/Folk/Blues” in the 2017 Online Radio Awards.
Grammy-winner and two-time Emmy nominee Dom Flemons is known as “The American Songster,” with a repertoire of music that covers nearly 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector and a multi-instrumentalist on the banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, percussion, quills, and rhythm bones and a co-founder of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, members of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. He’s appeared on NPR’s World Café and Here and Now and such venues as Carnegie Hall, Cecil Sharp House, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Newport Folk Festival. He’s made two instructional DVD’s for Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop and he represented the United States at the 2017 Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia.
Carl Jones is an American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Macon, GA, Carl presently lives in Galax, VA. He is widely respected for his instrumental talents and original songs about the joys and tribulations of day-to-day life in the South. Carl’s songs have been recorded by The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Kate Campbell, Rickie Simpkins with Tony Rice, and others. His song “Last Time on the Road” appears on the Grammy-award-winning album, Unleashed by the Nashville Bluegrass Band. In the 1980’s Carl played mandolin with Norman and Nancy Blake and James Bryan as part of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. Today he plays concerts and tours with wife, fiddler Erynn Marshall and in 2017 toured Australia with the Galax Bogtrotters and China with Erynn. Carl is known for his fine musicianship, sense of humor, songwriting, and charismatic teaching.
Children’s Program coordinator Melissa Hyman is involved with kids and music in all the many facets of her working life. She has taught music to elementary students at Asheville charter schools and coordinated children’s programming at regional music conferences. Her main gig is as a musician on the folk/indie circuit with The Moon and You, working full-time as a touring and recording artist, cellist, singer and songwriter. She is also the Music Teacher for the Asheville chapter of Arts for Life (artsforlifenc.org), a non-profit providing art and music programming for patients in NC’s major children’s hospitals and outpatient clinics. In 2016 Melissa founded Arts For Life’s Heartbeat Sessions program (heartbeatsessions.org), in joyful collaboration with Echo Mountain Recording Studios and many talented members of the Asheville music community. Melissa looks forward to many more unforgettable summers in Swannanoa, leading a ragtag crew of amazing kids and counselors on adventures through space and time. She feels right at home in this world of messy games, silly songs, amazing crafts and fast friendships.