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About the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music

“At the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, music is a living tradition. We provide an atmosphere of creativity in order to encourage young artists to carry our heritage on to the next generation. Though the focus of our program is Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music, we also provide mentoring and important life and business skills to help young people live successful lives as artists. This professional development comes through first-hand experience and interaction with the music community locally, regionally and ultimately around the world.

Whether your dream is a full-time career in music, or music is your serious interest, I hope you will consider all The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music has to offer. Until recent years, the study of Appalachian music has been included in curriculum as a peripheral musical style to be learned in the scope of classical rubric. In fact, the first courses in Bluegrass and Appalachian music at a school of higher education were taught as recently as 1971. Now at Morehead State University, you can earn the first Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Music Studies meeting National Association of Schools of Music accreditation requirements, a Minor in Traditional Music Studies – or you may choose to take our classes as electives.

For us, Traditional Music is: Bluegrass, Old Time, Country, Western Swing, Blues, Ballad Singing, Celtic, and all the music styles commonly identified with our southern mountain region. Music is the heartbeat of our culture and the lifeblood of our community. We strive to preserve, develop and celebrate our culture!”

- Raymond McLain, director

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Kentucky Center for Traditional Music

The KCTM is located on First Street in Morehead’s Arts District, near the historic Moonlight School, Morehead Conference Center and Kentucky Folk Art Center.

Just as generations of Kentuckians and mountain people came together to build buildings important to the community, schoolhouses, barns, community centers, homes when necessary, many people have come together to build the beautiful building that houses our center. Financed with private donations and state funds, a multitude of supporters have given financial backing, advice, expertise and enthusiastic words of encouragement for The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music building.

In 2012 KCTM moved into a new facility on First Street in Morehead’s Arts District, near the historic Moonlight School, Morehead Conference Center and Kentucky Folk Art Center.
Because of the support and investment that Morehead State University and individuals interested in our music have made, it is significant that our students can now feel validation for our cultural heritage and our musical styles that we now have an appropriate facility with classrooms, offices, practice rooms that are specially designed for those studying our music.

When you walk in the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, you see pictures on the walls. These are family pictures. If you love traditional music, these are your family pictures - pictures of a family to which you belong. These are pictures of artists - people who love this music as much as you do. Some of these musicians are well known. Some are not. All are important and represent so many people down through the years up to the present day that contribute and have contributed much to our music community. When you see these pictures on the wall, you will know that you are home.

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History

Morehead State's involvement with traditional music has a long and proud history. For many years, the “Appalachian Celebration,” an event celebrating mountain folk music, dance, crafts, art, literature and storytelling was held at Morehead State. This annual celebration was a collaboration among faculty and staff at the University and many from the local and regional music community. For decades, faculty members and administrators from MSU’s Department of Music (now Music, Theatre and Dance) including Chair Dr. Glenn Fulbright and guitar and violin professor, Leo Blair took part in traditional music festivals and country dances around the state. The rich music history and enthusiasm for traditional music in the region, and excitement generated by the “Appalachian Celebration” made Morehead State the perfect home for a center to preserve, develop and celebrate this important part of our cultural heritage.

The Kentucky Center for Traditional music was born in 2000, with oversight from Keith Kappes, vice president for university relations (now retired) and MSU President Emeritus Dr. Ronald Eaglin with input from Dr. Chris Gallaher, chair of the Department of Music, and faculty members, Ray Ross and Andy Carlson, who created the first traditional music curriculum at MSU. Much guidance and vision came from the center’s first director, Sandy Knipp who was followed by performing artist, Don Rigsby, and Jesse Wells, a student at the time and now instructor and archivist. Advice and inspiration came from an advisory board of University and community members, including local musicians Harvey Pennington and Dr. Ron Dobler. Morehead State University offered the first minor in Traditional Music Studies in 2000.

In 2011, the curriculum was expanded with courses created in the areas of Traditional Music History, Traditional Music Theory and courses offering private instruction on a host of instruments and traditional voice. Band classes were offered in various styles of traditional music including, Bluegrass, Old Time, Country, and Traditional Vocal Ensembles.

Under the leadership of MSU President Emeritus Dr. Wayne D. Andrews, KCTM moved into a new facility in 2012 on First Street in Morehead’s Arts District, near the historic Moonlight School, Morehead Conference Center and Kentucky Folk Art Center.

Raymond McLain and Jesse Wells take viewers on a tour of the new Kentucky Center for Traditional Music during its construction in 2012.

In 2013, the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music was proud to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Music Studies degree. This was the first baccalaureate degree with robust traditional music curriculum focusing on musical styles including Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music offered in the commonwealth and the first in the world meeting National Association of Schools of Music accreditation standards.

The “Mountain Music Ambassadors” is the flagship group of student performers from the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. These student musicians form a section of band class that has represented our region, and our mountain culture, performing in concerts at theaters, schools, festivals and other venues regionally, nationally and internationally.

The first overseas concert tour by students from the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music was led by Jesse Wells in 2009 to Morehead’s sister city, Ballymena, Northern Ireland. From 2009 to 2019, students officially representing the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music and Morehead State University have made nine international concert tours to Ireland (2009, 2018), China (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), and Jamaica (2015).

The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music continues to grow under the leadership of director Raymond McLain and the dedicated faculty and staff who mentor and guide students in their academic pursuits, as well as in collaborations and outreach efforts.

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Mission & Goals

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University is a stand-alone unit within Academic Affairs. The center houses the “Traditional Music Program,” offering a Bachelor of Arts and a minor in Traditional Music Studies, (coursework can also be taken as electives), the “Traditional Music Archives” and “Sounds of Our Heritage” outreach program. It is academically responsible to the provost through the dean of the Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

MISSION STATEMENT

  • The mission of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music combines four equally important responsibilities:
  • Provide a nationally accredited quality education in traditional music styles.
  • Preserve, develop and celebrate our cultural heritage.
  • Collect, maintain and provide access to culturally significant materials to foster better understanding of traditional music.
  • Represent our cultural heritage through performance educational outreach and interaction.

GOALS

  • To teach about our traditional music forms and culture from both a historical and contemporary perspective using methods which encourage quality learning through discovery and inspiration.
  • To mentor and prepare students to become well-rounded, business savvy, creative, productive artists.
  • To develop and maintain the Traditional Music Archive as a resource for researchers, students, and the public.
  • To simultaneously preserve and develop our art form.
  • To provide students with extensive performance experience and the opportunity to interact with musical artists and professionals in the music industry.
  • To engage and educate the public, positively representing Kentucky’s rich cultural heritage in its global context, the Appalachian region and Morehead State University through performance and interaction with community in the MSU service region and beyond.

Contact Information

Kentucky Center for Traditional Music

186 East First Street
Morehead, KY 40351

EMAIL: kctm@moreheadstate.edu
PHONE: 606-783-9001
FAX: 606-783-9108