Three WNC residents win South Arts fellowships

Press release from South Arts:

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, has announced the inaugural recipients of the In These Mountains: Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowships. These nine folk and traditional artists, from throughout Central Appalachian counties of Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee, will each receive an award of $9,000 to continue their lifelong learning.

The nine recipients include (WNC winners in bold):

  • Sheila Kay Adams. Ballad Singer, Storyteller, Banjo Player. Marshall, North Carolina.
  • Will Bowling. Square Dance Caller. Oneida, Kentucky.
  • Matt Downer. Old Time Fiddler and Banjo Player. Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Ranjani Murthy. Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Douglas Naselroad. Luthiery. Winchester, Kentucky.
  • William Parsons. Luthiery. Olive Hill, Kentucky.
  • Travis Stuart. Old Time Music; Banjo Player; Fiddle Player. Canton, North Carolina.
  • Rodney Sutton. Flatfoot Dancer; Clogger; Dance Caller. Asheville, North Carolina.
  • Sue Williams. White Oak Basketmaker. Morrison, Tennessee.

“The traditional arts and culture of Central Appalachia are integral components of our national identity,” said program director Teresa Hollingsworth. “Bluegrass, old time music, and flatfooting dancing represent centuries of traditional culture that have been passed down across generations. And, as new residents make their homes in these communities, we hope new traditions in the South will flourish. Our first class of Master Artists represent the standard-bearers keeping these traditions strong and perpetuating them for younger artists.”

The nine Master Artists were selected from approximately 75 submissions by a juried panel including Mark Brown (folk and traditional arts director, Kentucky Arts Council), Whitney Brown (independent folklorist, writer, and dry-stone waller), Linda Damron Caldwell (founding executive director, Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association), Bradley A. Hanson (director of folklife, Tennessee Arts Commission), and Sally Peterson (folklife director, North Carolina Arts Council).

During the application process, folk and traditional artists from eligible counties submitted work samples, explained their traditional art practice, and the lifelong opportunity they would pursue. “It was extraordinary to review the breadth of talent, creativity, and history in the applicant pool,” continued Hollingsworth. “We are proud to support opportunities for folk and traditional artists to continue their mastery of their work.”

Work samples and profiles of the nine Folks & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship recipients are available on Information and guidelines for future rounds of this fellowship will be posted in late fall 2019.

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