Don Rigsby in 2010

Don Rigsby will be starting off the new year with a new focus in his career.

This award-winning singer and mandolinist had spent the past 8 years as the Director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. He was at the helm when this program launched at MSU in 2000, and had announced his intention to leave the program this past August.

Raymond McLain, who has been serving as Director of the Country, Bluegrass & Old Time Music program at East Tennessee State University will take Rigsbsy’s spot at Morehead effective January 4, 2010. MSU President Wayne Andrews welcomed McLain when his appointment was announced earlier this month.

“We are delighted to have Raymond McLain join the MSU family. He provided significant leadership at East Tennessee State University in the development of its nationally recognized program. Raymond is a topnotch professional musician, teacher and person. He will attract many students because of the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience. Furthermore, given time and resources, Raymond will continue to develop KCTM into a premier center to preserve the heritage of this region’s traditional music.”

For his part, Rigsby leaves with some mixed feelings about his time at KCTM. As the founding director, he came to realize that his job had been done, and that it was time for him to move on and let the program continue under new leadership.

“For the entire time I worked for MSU, I gave my heart and soul to the program. It was never fully funded or supported by the university community and this was a source of frustration to me and my staff when I constantly had to tell them wait until next year. It became apparent to me that I could never satisfy the administration since their goals and mine became vastly different. The fact is, they were the same when I started my job and they changed about 18 months ago for some reason I still don’t understand.

At any rate, my passion for preserving Bluegrass music is still as fervent as it ever was and the students I taught will remain one of my high points in my career. There are several remaining at MSU who have a bright future ahead of them no matter who is heading the program.

The things that President Andrews said about Raymond McClain are all true. He is a world class musician and has done an excellent job at ETSU. I feel certain that he will be given the full support of the administration that I never was.”

Don tells us that he has plenty to keep him busy as he moves forward. He has recently completed a home office where he will be working on a documentary film and book project about the many songwriters with Kentucky roots. He will also be teaching privately, both in person and online.

“I am pursuing a performing career with fervor as never before and producing lots more projects for people in music of many genres.

I have also been named to the advisory board for Berklee’s American Music program. I consider this a high honor. I am going into business for myself as well. My friends and fans can keep up with me at and come see us this summer in concert.

Watch for our new release The Voice of God on Rebel Records, in stores this February.”

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.