for Ky. Gov. Arts Award
talent earned him the states Folk Heritage Award
(March 2005) Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher
on Feb. 8 honored the states artisans with the presentation of
the Governors Awards in the Arts. Owenton, Ky., fiddler John Harrod,
a Kentucky native, received the Folk Heritage Award.
Harrod plays and
teaches folk music.
The award honors people who have made valuable contributions
to the states folk heritage or to the preservation of the states folk
heritage, Harrod said in a February telephone interview. I
think in my case it was a little bit of both.
Harrod has spent the last 30 years playing, teaching, researching and
working to preserve traditional music. I seek out and have documented
stories of traditional musicians in Kentucky, many of whom are now deceased.
Harrod, a history teacher at Frankfort High School, had the largest
cheering section at the ceremony. His schools principal had arranged
for his entire student body to go to the Capitol and watch their teacher
as he was honored by Fletcher.
Harrod has made countless audio and video recordings of old time musicians
playing and talking about the music they love. In the beginning, he
says, as a fiddle player, it was just an interest of his. He later put
copies of his documentations at Berea College in the Appalachian Sound
Archive for others to see and hear.
The pieces are now being copied for an archive at the Kentucky Center
for Traditional Music at Morehead. The recordings feature more than
100 artists that Harrod has researched through the years.
Harrod began playing the fiddle and traditional music when he was 19
years old. I started playing bluegrass music and that led me back
to the music that preceded it, he said.
He plays several instruments but is best known for his fiddling. He
has played with a number of bands over the years and is now plays in
a band named Kentucky Wildhorse with fellow traditional
music enthusiasts, Paul David Smith, Jim Web, Don Rogers, Jeff Keith
and Kevin Kehrberg.
The band plays bluegrass, old time and even some country rock. I
dont think you can really see a clear line of separation between
the styles, Harrod said. They are all a product of the same
people, with the same values, they are continuum of one another.
Other Governors Arts Award recipients included Ricky Skaggs, a
Kentucky native and nationally famous bluegrass musician who received
the National Award. Elizabeth Harwell, a Louisville Ballet ballerina,
received the Artists Awards for lifetime achievement in the arts. The
Community Arts Award for an individual was presented to Nana Yaa Assantewa,
and the Community Arts Award for an organization went to The Singletary
Center for the Arts on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington.
David A. Jones, chairman of Humana, Inc., received the Milner Award,
the most prestigious award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts
in Kentucky. Mike Mullins represented the Hindman-Knott County Community
Development Initiative, the recipients of the Government Award. The
Media Award was awarded to Judy Jennings, vice president of marketing
of WTCR Radio in Ashland. Nancy Chadwick accepted the Education Award
for the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in Covington. The
Business Award went to Julius Friedman, co-owner of Louisvilles
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