Community scholars institute coming to Fort Payne

Pictured is Mary Allison Haynie speaking at the last Fort Payne City Council meeting.

On June 19 through 22, 2019, participants in an educational training program of the Alabama Folklife Association (AFA) will learn more about the field of folklore and local music traditions.

During Alabama Community Scholars Institute: Sounds of Appalachia, workshops, lectures, and experiences will provide opportunities to develop skills and access tools and resources to enhance the documentation, preservation, and presentation of folk music.

“The AFA is honored to bring ACSI to northeast Alabama,” Executive Director Mary Allison Haynie said. “The contributing scholars and artists are of the highest caliber and share a profound appreciation for the musical genres that took root in the region and continue to flourish today.”

Training will introduce fieldwork methods and ways to present archival material and living traditions through arts in education, radio programs, exhibits, publications, documentaries, and audio productions.

Many courses and the opening night old-time fiddle show, featuring Matt Downer and James Bryan, will take place at Jacksonville State University’s Little River Canyon Center. Evening programs will offer opportunities to enjoy historic downtown Fort Payne to see movies and hear more great music. On June 21, there will be a series of programs dedicated to country music. Funded in part by a grant from South Arts, a public discussion with music and storytelling will take place at 2:00 p.m at the Fort Payne Opera House. Kathy Louvin, daughter of Ira Louvin, will be joined by surviving siblings of the Louvin Brothers to present their family heritage. A tour of the Opera House will follow and then Dr. James Akenson will give a talk on the 1932 performances by Jimmie Rodgers. That evening, Kathy Louvin will perform at Vintage 1889 at 6 p.m.

According to long-time AFA board member and leader in the arts, Russell Gulley, “the Alabama Community Scholars Institute is something that I am very pleased to see come to Fort Payne. It’s a great way to revitalize the documentation and preservation of our vast musical heritage.” Sessions are funded by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF), a state partner with the National Endowment for the Humanities. A grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) provided overall support. Gulley and Haynie are grateful to the AHF, South Arts, ASCA, the City of Fort Payne, the Canyon Center, Landmarks of DeKalb County and Main Street Fort Payne for their support.

All sessions will be open and free, but for everyone and fulltime graduating participants, registration fees (tickets) can cover meals and/or accommodations at DeSoto State Park and Vintage 1889. For more information and links registration, go to the AFA web site, “Research” page. (

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