Congratulations to Gabby Cameron, a MA Ethnomusicology student at the University of Maryland, who is the 2022 recipient of the IBMA Foundation’s Neil Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award. Cameron’s presentation, titled “The Jewgrass Situation: An Examination of Nefesh Mountain’s Political Message,” was delivered at the April 2022 inaugural String Band Summit at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Gabby plans to continue her studies toward a PhD to further explore the intersection of bluegrass and American Jewish music. She is also a bluegrass banjo player who performs in the Washington, DC area with her band, Cherry Blossom Special. Cameron’s presentation may be read here.
“There is an emerging sub-genre that emphasizes Jewish expression, dubbed ‘Jewgrass,’’ Cameron writes, pointing to the New Jersey-based bluegrass band Nefesh Mountain as a prominent example. She says the first portion of her paper “explores the generational diasporic position of Nefesh Mountain, connecting their music with the Jewish-American immigrant experience.” Cameron examines messages found in the band’s most recent recording, Songs for the Sparrows, in response to recent political unrest. Her writing points out Nefesh Mountain’s role in bridging contemporary Jewish music and bluegrass communities, while “invoking Jewish values to spread a political message.”
In addition to a cash honorarium of $500, Ms. Cameron will be invited to be the IBMA Foundation’s guest at the IBMA Business Conference September 27-29, and also at the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards presented by Yamaha, scheduled for September 29, both in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The IBMA Foundation presents an annual award to the developing academic scholar who presents the best paper at a juried academic conference on an aspect of bluegrass music. The objective of this award is to grow the academic awareness of bluegrass music by encouraging developing academic scholars to present research of high quality to fellow scholars on any aspect of the genre. Developing academic scholars eligible for this award are defined as graduate students in MA or PhD programs and recent PhDs (within five years of degree completion).
The committee tasked with overseeing the 2022 Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholarship Award was headed by Dr. Travis Stimeling (University of West Virginia), and also included Tim Stafford (East Tennessee State University/Blue Highway).
The award, originally known as the “IBMA Academic Prize,” was presented in 2011 to Benjamin Krakauer, who has joined the faculty of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. The IBMA Foundation assumed responsibility for the award in 2019, re-naming it in honor of renowned bluegrass music historian, author, scholar and banjo player Neil Rosenberg, who was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2014. Jordan Laney, who currently teaches at Virginia Tech, was the Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award recipient in 2019. The 2021 award was presented to Heather Grimm, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University.
The 2022 Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholar Award is sponsored by Laurie Greenberg, an active member of the bluegrass community serving as the co-chair of IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass Alumni Committee, the chair of the Strings for Dreams Bluegrass Raffle task force for the IBMA Foundation, and a volunteer at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and the Wintergrass Music Festival.
For more information about the award, please email Nancy Cardwell at the IBMA Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Travis Stimeling (email@example.com). Entries for consideration next year may be emailed before August 1, 2023, to Dr. Stimeling directly, or mailed to him c/o West Virginia University School of Music, PO Box 6111, Morgantown, WV 26506-6111.
RETURN to the August 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.