The IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship is awarded to a student who plans to be involved in the bluegrass music industry on a professional level in the future and who shows evidence of talent in a bluegrass-related field. Autumn Moore is this year’s recipient. A fiddler, guitar and mandolin player from Newport, PA, she will be studying Environmental Resource Management this fall at Pennsylvania State University. As a member of the Schreyer Honors Program, Moore plans to create a new course of study to continue her bluegrass music development and start a Penn State Bluegrass Band. Autumn was nominated in the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Event of the Year category for her production of TBS (Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars), an online bluegrass festival which featured four days of free, live-streamed music from 41 youth bands from 19 different states. Since 2015 Autumn has served as an administrative assistant at Ashokan Center fiddle camps in New York state, and she plays in a band with her brother called Buffalo Mountain Bluegrass. The IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship originated as an idea from the IBMA Board of Directors and has been funded by Lee Zapis of Z Mandolins, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, and several others.

Rainy Miatke from Ashland, Oregon is the 2021 recipient of the new Crandall Creek Scholarship for college students who demonstrate an interest in bluegrass music, including but not limited to performance. Miatke will attend Warren Wilson College in the fall, majoring in Environmental Studies. A mandolin and guitar player, Rainy grew up performing in a family band called Rainy and the Rattlesnakes—first busking on the streets and in farmers’ markets, and later traveling across the country twice, earning gas money with gigs. Since then, she has formed ensembles, gone on tour, and recorded with several musicians. “My dream is to use my bluegrass music roots and my platform to bring people together and empower them to rise up and advocate for our planet,” Miatke says. Crandall Creek is a Moundsville, West Virginia-based band formed in 2015 that plays a mix of bluegrass, folk, acoustic country and gospel, with Appalachian roots.

Emma Turoff, a mandolin and guitar player from Brooklyn, New York, and Hayley King, a fiddler, guitarist and songwriter from Ridgeway, South Carolina, are the two recipients of the Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship, created for female bluegrass musicians majoring in any subject at college.

Emma Turoff plans to be a Performance major on mandolin with a minor in American Roots Music at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. She grew up in New York City surrounded by bluegrass musicians, including her father, who is a guitarist. She picked up the mandolin at age 11 when her dad told her she could stay up later at night at bluegrass festivals when she learned to play an instrument in tune and in time. Emma produced a 90-minute documentary on the New York City bluegrass scene, “Bluegrass Grows in Brooklyn,” which premiered in March 2020. During the pandemic she took lessons with Dominick Leslie and Andy Statman, and she started an outdoor socially distanced concert series to entertain neighbors and support local musicians. “I intend to become a force in this industry as a performer and an organizer,” Turoff wrote in her application.

Hayley King is pursuing a double major in Traditional Music and Spanish at Morehead State University in Kentucky. King studies bluegrass and old-time music at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, where she takes music classes and participates in various bands. Hayley has spent the past summer with an internship co-producing the radio show, “Songs of Our Heritage,” which features musical performances by current and previous participants in the KCTM program. Through her double major in Spanish and Traditional Appalachian Music, King says she wants to pursue a career that will help people to appreciate each other and respect each other’s cultures. “By connecting with each other through sharing our language, art, and music, we can form unbreakable bonds within our communities and find lifelong friends,” King writes.

Sally Ann Forrester played accordion and sang as a member of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys from 1943-1946, thus becoming the first female professional bluegrass musician in history. Initial funds for the Forrester scholarships were donated by Murphy Hicks Henry, co-founder with her husband, Red Henry, of the Murphy Method instructional media company and the author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass. In addition to a number of donations received during the past year, support for the 2021 scholarship came from Robert Forrester, son of Howdy and Sally Ann Forrester in honor of his mother’s memory, and Megan Brugger at Real Roots Radio in Xenia, Ohio.

Jessica Lang, a sophomore at Belmont University originally from Wake Forest, North Carolina, will receive the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes an IBMA member planning to study songwriting at college. A talented lead guitarist as well as a singer-songwriter, Jessica plans to study both publishing and music, and will continue to perform with the college bluegrass ensemble. She is a part of Belmont University’s honors program and is scheduled to study abroad in Belfast, Ireland, in 2022, where she will be immersed in traditional folk and Celtic music and begin work on her honors thesis project. Beginning with the guitar at age nine, Lang participated in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, as well as educational opportunities hosted by PineCone in Raleigh. Lang joined the IBMA Kids on Bluegrass program in 2016, was a part of the IBMA Songwriter Showcase in 2019, and has recorded with both the Lang Sisters and the Carolina PineCones. After Belmont, Jessica hopes to pursue graduate studies, possibly in ethnomusicology or music therapy. She was a Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship recipient in 2020. The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship is funded by Rick and Wendy Lang (who are not related to Jessica). Rick Lang is a Grammy-nominated writer, chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee, and a volunteer with the IBMA Songwriter Mentor Program.

Additional contributions to the IBMA Foundation’s scholarships are welcome. Permanent endowments at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee have been established to fund at least one IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship and Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship in perpetuity. The IBMA Foundation supports programs and initiatives fostering the growth of bluegrass music, helping donors to create a legacy for future generations by connecting resources to projects that focus on bluegrass music-related arts and culture, education, literary work, and historic preservation.

RETURN to the August 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.