Bristol, Va.-Tenn. (May 11, 2023) – Panelists from a variety of backgrounds in music discuss what it is like to work in the field at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, 7 p.m. ET, May 23. The program is in partnership with the Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME). Participants may join online via Zoom or in person. There is no cost to attend.
“We are excited to partner with AAME to offer this fascinating look into the lives of women whose skills and experiences in music are so varied,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “The panelists will offer multiple perspectives on making a career in music, providing insights to those who aspire to join them and those who enjoy their work.”
Special guests Carla Gover, Dr. Dena Jennings, and Emily Spencer will be part of the panel, exploring their different careers, how they engage others with their creative visions, the challenges and joys of dealing with the day-to-day realities of their work, and more.
Carla Gover is an 8th-generation Kentuckian, whose art and work celebrate the best of what the state has to offer. She shares flatfooting, ballads, and banjo through her performances, recordings, collaborations, and online courses. She’s released seven albums of music, including her most recent recording with CornMaiz String Band, which went to #1 on the Folk Radio Charts. She’s toured for nearly three decades, playing such venues as the Glasgow Royal Hall, Merlefest, and The Kennedy Center. She’s also won a slew of awards, including the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and the Kerrville New Folk Award. She was also recognized as a Master Dancer by the Kentucky Folklife Program, and recently won the “Appy” for Best Dance Educator from the Appalachian Arts & Entertainment Awards. She is the founder of the groundbreaking online Appalachian Flatfooting & Clogging Academy. With her partner Yani Vozos, she also coordinates the Cornbread & Tortillas Artist Collective, whose mission is to build community by sharing art, music, dance, and cultural heritage.
Dr. Dena Jennings is a physician and artist in Central Virginia who hand carves modern instruments made from gourds and other natural fibers in the style of traditional instruments from around the world. Her practice’s waiting room is a gallery for her sculpted instruments and a listening room for Appalachian and Black American roots music. Through her nonprofit Imani Works, Jennings conducts instrument building workshops, conflict transformation retreats, and hosts the Affrolachian On-Time Music Gathering.
Emily Spencer was born and grew up in Arlington, Virginia, then moved to Southwest Virginia to attend college. She and her late husband, Thornton Spencer, formed the Whitetop Mountain Band along with the renowned fiddler Albert Hash. The band has performed widely in the region and other countries and continues to perform to this day. In 1980 she began teaching mountain music in a community music program at the Mount Rogers Fire Department. This program eventually became the Albert Hash Memorial Band program in Grayson County Schools. She is currently an instructor in both the Ashe and Alleghany JAM programs in North Carolina and has also taught through Wilkes Community College in Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes, and at Wytheville Community College. Emily has also led many workshops at various festivals and events.
Music as Work is complementary programming to the I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music special exhibit, currently on display at the museum through December 31, 2023. Interested in-person attendees can participate in a curator-guided tour of the exhibit at 6:15 p.m. ET before the program starts.