Here’s another post from our semi-regular correspondent, Richard Thompson. He writes from England, where he is also a longstanding contributor to British Bluegrass News, a quarterly print publication where he also briefly served as editor.
James E Akenson has announced that Stephanie P Ledgin will be the career honoree for the 2007 Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism. Ledgin will be honored on Friday, 25 May 2007, during the luncheon of the International Country Music Conference held in The Board Room of the Massey Business Center of Belmont University in Nashville.
The music journalist and photographer began her career in roots music in 1975 when she was appointed assistant editor of the seminal bluegrass magazine Pickin’, now no longer published. She worked in that role for two years.
Since joining Pickin’ magazine, Ledgin has focused primarily on bluegrass and folk music, her work reaching all parts of the world via magazines, books and recordings, including photographs for the booklet accompanying the Smithsonian Folkways’ Classic Bluegrass, Volume 2 and notes for James Reams And The Barnstormers’ CD, Troubled Times.
From 1987 through to 2004 she published The Traditional Music Line, a highly rated, comprehensive monthly calendar of acoustic music events. Also in 1987 Ledgin began promoting a new bluegrass series at New York’s legendary Lone Star Caf?©, beginning with the Johnson Mountain Boys. One of her photographs taken that December evening was used on the front cover of that group’s Grammy nominated album, At The Old Schoolhouse.
In 1988 and 1989 Ledgin presented the National Council For The Traditional Art’s Masters Of The Folk Violin concerts, in the process introducing the then rising star Alison Krauss to New York city audiences. From 1988 through to the middle of 1991 she co-produced the bluegrass and old-time music shows at Eagle Tavern in New York city.
For ten years, from 1989 Ledgin worked with Beppe Gambetta as the Italian flatpicking guitar ace’s manager and booking agent.
In addition to these many activities Ledgin has acted as host of CityFolk on New York Public Radio WFUV 90.7 FM, served as director of the New Jersey Folk Festival at Rutgers University for ten years (1994-2003) and worked as concert and festival MC, including at Merlefest, among other stages.
She is the author of two books, the first of which, the much praised introduction to bluegrass music Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass (Praeger, cloth; University of Illinois Press, paper), earned her the title of the 2005 International Bluegrass Music Print Media Person of the Year [See photograph]. Her second, From Every Stage: Images of America Roots Music (University Press of Mississippi), is a pictorial record of the bluegrass and folk music personalities that she has encountered since beginning her professional involvement in the music business. From Every Stage also contains several rare, previously unpublished interviews with such personalities as Bill Monroe, Jimmie Skinner, Vassar Clements.
Her photographs have been exhibited at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. From June her pictures will be displayed at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Since the publication of her books Ledgin has been in demand for speaking engagements, workshops and book festivals. She presented a paper, Is It Bluegrass? The Controversy. What We Can Learn From Bill Monroe And Elvis Presley, at the 2005 International Bluegrass Music Symposium, at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ledgin confides with me, “I would love to be able to share this particular presentation, which I have given in other lectures, with a wider audience of bluegrass fans. I think it serves as a great reminder of how and why bluegrass is and can be a diverse music within its own definitions.”
She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association, a founding member of the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance and a member of the European Bluegrass Music Association.
Currently, Ledgin is developing a special interview series for electronic broadcast and working on her next book, Discovering Folk Music, to be published by Praeger and expected in 2008.
Ledgin will join an elite international list of Charlie Lamb Award honorees such as Jack Hurst, Ed Morris, Chrissie Dickinson, Bob Howe from Australia, Tony Russell of the U.K. and Chet Flippo.
Other awards for Ledgin include the Park Slope (NYC) Bluegrass & Old-Time Jamboree Brown Jug Award for significant and continuing contributions to those two musical genres in the Northeast, 2004.
When I asked Stephanie for a comment, about her reaction to the Lamb award she had not come to terms with the situation, “I was rather stunned, actually, and certainly very pleasantly surprised to learn I had been selected”.
For a further look at Ledgin’s long career, visit her web site.