Gabby Cameron, recipient of the Neil Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award for 2022 from the IBMA Foundation
The IBMA Foundation, the philanthropic and educational arm of the International Bluegrass Music Association, has announced today the recipients of their various college scholarships, many of which are being awarded for the first time, and the winner of their 2022 Neil Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award, formerly the IBMA Academic Prize.
Scholarships were awarded to the following:
- Crandall Creek Scholarship – Shane Austin
- J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarship – Max Allard
- Katy Daley Broadcast Media & Sound Engineering Scholarship – Faith Pierce and Chun Is Lee
- Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship – Bethany Kelley and Gracie Mae Grossman
- IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship – Jaelee Roberts
- Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship – Hayley King
The Neil Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award went to Gabby Cameron, a Masters student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland for her paper, The Jewgrass Situation: An Examination of Nefesh Mountain’s Political Message, delivered in April of this year at the first String Band Summit at East Tennessee State University.
Gabby receives a $500 honorarium, and an invitation to attend the Business Conference at the 2022 World of Bluegrass and the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards as the guest of the IBMA Foundation.
The Foundation shares this about Cameron’s work…
“There is an emerging sub-genre that emphasizes Jewish expression, dubbed ‘Jewgrass,'” Cameron writes, pointing to the New Jersey-based bluegrass band Nefesh Mountain as a prominent example. She says the first portion of her paper “explores the generational diasporic position of Nefesh Mountain, connecting their music with the Jewish-American immigrant experience.” Cameron examines messages found in the band’s most recent recording, Songs for the Sparrows, in response to recent political unrest. Her writing points out Nefesh Mountain’s role in bridging contemporary Jewish music and bluegrass communities, while “invoking Jewish values to spread a political message.”
The various scholarships awarded today were funded in most cases by individuals to help encourage the study of different parts of the bluegrass industry in college. Rick Lang funded the one for songwriting, Katy Daley and her husband, Bill Brown, funded the Broadcast Media scholarship, and the J.D. Crowe was funded by Arthur Hancock III, a dear friend of Crowe’s.
Most offer a $1,000 award for study in college, and it is hoped that with ongoing donations to these specific scholarships, these annual grants can increase as time goes on.
The Foundation also provided the following information about the recipients and the scholarships:
Shane Austin from Fall Branch, Tennessee is the 2022 recipient of the Crandall Creek Scholarship for college students who demonstrate an interest in bluegrass music, including but not limited to performance. Austin will be a freshman at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, majoring in Computer Science and taking classes in Bluegrass and Appalachian Studies. He is an accomplished guitarist, singer/songwriter, and mandolin player. Both of his parents are bluegrass band members, so Shane has grown up in bluegrass. After gaining the educational tools to become a software/hardware engineer and architect, Shane hopes to become a technology entrepreneur and found his own business. He has an interest in business leadership, and he hopes to perform and record in a bluegrass band.
Crandall Creek is a Moundsville, West Virginia-based band formed in 2015 that plays a mix of bluegrass, folk, acoustic country, and gospel, with Appalachian roots. They created the scholarship in 2021 in collaboration with the IBMA Foundation to help support the future of bluegrass music and give back to the bluegrass community.
Max Allard, a sophomore at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, is the first recipient of the J.D. Crowe Banjo Scholarship. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Max plays the banjo and he is majoring in Composition. In addition to studying the banjo on the college level or performing in a bluegrass college ensemble, recipients of this award must already demonstrate a high level of performance skills on the five-string banjo and plan to become involved in the bluegrass music industry on a professional level.
A sophomore at Oberlin, Max already has 10 years of playing and composing experience. He cofounded the Oberlin Banjo Society on campus, which hosts jam sessions and workshops. He hopes that studying at a conservatory will give him tools to succeed in the music industry—whether he ends up performing, teaching, or scoring films and video games. In January 2022 Allard released a solo banjo debut album, Odes / Codes, produced by Jayme Stone. His goal is to create new compositional and stylistic ways of thinking for the banjo, while continuing to play bluegrass music. “I hope to help pave the way for the future of the 5-string banjo and help keep the instrument alive,” he says.
Legendary banjo stylist and Bluegrass Hall of Fame member J.D. Crowe (1937-2021) was one of the most influential banjo players in the history of bluegrass music. Longtime friend and fellow Kentucky bluegrass musician Arthur Hancock III made the donation in 2022 to endow this new scholarship. His son, Arthur Hancock IV, a member of the IBMA Foundation board of directors, was also instrumental in creating the scholarship in Crowe’s memory.
The two recipients of the Katy Daley Broadcast Media & Sound Engineering Scholarship are Faith Pierce, who is pursuing an Interdisciplinary Music Studies graduate degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and Chun Si Lee, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Asheville working on a Bachelor of Science in Music Technology.
Originally from Mississippi, Faith’s degree will incorporate studies in music production, music business, film scoring, and songwriting. In addition to engineering, Faith plays guitar and sings. An online student at Berklee, Pierce produces a nationally syndicated morning show for iHeart Media in Baton Rouge. Last May she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Media and Entertainment Arts from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a member of SoundGirls, where she was awarded the “We Are Moving the Needle” Scholarship. She also received the Board of Governors Scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the 2022 Southeast Chapter EMMY Awards.
Chun Si Lee plays guitar and banjo in addition to working as a sound engineer. Originally from Conover, North Carolina, he plans to use his education to open up a music studio and create his own audio consulting business where he can help venues, churches, and schools find the right audio equipment for their specific needs.
Katy Daley, co-host of the Bluegrass Stories podcast series along with Howard Parker, has had a 30+ year career in bluegrass (WAMU-FM and Bluegrass Country) and country (WMZQ) radio in the Washington, DC area. Katy was named IBMA Bluegrass Broadcaster of the year in 2009 and 2011, and she received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2019 for her contributions to bluegrass music.
Bethany Kelley, a multi-instrumentalist and audio engineer from Spring Hill, Tennessee, and Gracie Mae Grossman, a fiddler from Huntington, Indiana, are the two recipients of the Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship, created for female bluegrass musicians majoring in any subject at college.
Bethany is a senior at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, working toward an Advanced Professional Music Production certificate. She plays fiddle, banjo, piano, and does audio engineering. She is the fiddle player, banjo player, and vocalist in the Paper Dolls Band based in Nashville. Bethany’s dream is to finish college and work professionally, both as an audio engineer and band member, helping to preserve the sound of bluegrass music in the best way possible.
Gracie Mae, a freshman at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, is majoring in Bluegrass Music. Starting out with classical violin in 2016, Gracie Mae switched to bluegrass fiddling in 2017, studying with Deanie Richardson and Becky Buller. In 2019 she started her own roots-music radio show, Deep Roots Radio. Her goal for the past five years has been to study bluegrass music at ETSU.
Sally Ann Forrester played accordion and sang as a member of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys from 1943-1946, thus becoming the first female professional bluegrass musician in history. Initial funds for the Forrester scholarships were donated by Murphy Hicks Henry, co-founder with her husband, Red Henry, of the Murphy Method instructional media company and the author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass. Support for the 2022 scholarships came from Robert Forrester, son of Howdy and Sally Ann Forrester, and Megan Brugger at Real Roots Radio in Xenia, Ohio.
The IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship is awarded to a student who plans to be involved in the bluegrass music industry on a professional level in the future, and who shows evidence of talent in a bluegrass-related field. Jaelee Roberts is this year’s recipient. Jaelee is a senior at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, majoring in Commercial Songwriting (Department of Recording Industry) in the College of Media and Entertainment. Roberts plays guitar and fiddle, sings, and is a songwriter. Originally from Murfreesboro, Roberts has a new solo album out on the Mountain Home Music label called Something You Didn’t Count On, and since February 2021 she has worked as a vocalist and guitarist for the award-winning nationally touring band, Sister Sadie. Jaelee is a former president of the IBMA Youth Council, she was invited to showcase at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass as an artist and a songwriter in 2019-20, and in 2021 she was named Vocalist of the Year at the IBMA Momentum Awards. She has performed on the Grand Ole Opry with Sister Sadie and attended two GRAMMY Camps in Nashville and Los Angeles as a teenager. Jaelee is nominated for 2022 IBMA Awards in the following categories: New Artist of the Year, plus Entertainer of the Year and Vocal Group with Sister Sadie.
The IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship originated as an idea from the IBMA Board of Directors and has been funded by Lee Zapis of Z Mandolins, Alan Tompkins, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Katy Daley, and several others.
Hayley King, a senior at Morehead (Kentucky) State University, where she is enrolled in a double major in Traditional Appalachian Music and Spanish, will receive the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes an IBMA member planning to study songwriting at college. Originally from Ridgeway, South Carolina, Hayley is primarily a fiddler, but she also loves writing songs, singing, and playing rhythm guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele, and clawhammer banjo. King believes combining a focus on traditional music and foreign language will make it possible for her to pursue a career that will help people to appreciate each other and respect each other’s cultures.
The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship is funded by Rick and Wendy Lang. Rick Lang is a Grammy-nominated writer, chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee, and a volunteer with the IBMA Songwriter Mentor Program.
Information about donations to the IBMA Foundation, which can be earmarked for any of these scholarships, or any other Foundation project, can be found online.