Liza's book, Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky's Forgotten Ballad Collector, published through University Press of Kentucky was awarded the KENTUCKY HISTORY AWARD!!!
Liza and her work on Dr. French was featured on All Things Considered on NPR in a feature by Stephanie Wolf. You can catch it here: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/05/953653411/katherine-jackson-frenchs-ballad-collection-published-110-years-later
Other features include one on Old-Time Central: https://oldtime-central.com/katherine-jackson-french-kentuckys-forgotten-ballad-collector/ and an article in the Country Dance and Song Society Summer 2020 magazine as well: https://www.cdss.org/programs/cdss-news-publications/cdss-news/1900-cdss-news-fall-2020
Dr. French first tried to publish a collection of Kentucky ballads in 1910; the story of how this did not come to be, along with how the history of Appalachian balladry would have been different if it had, is the subject of this story of one of Kentucky music's greatest unknown women. The biography may be ordered here: https://www.kentuckypress.com/9780813178523/katherine-jackson-french/
A commemorative edition of her ballads has just been published by Berea College, fulfilling a 110-year-old project. It, along with There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling a recording of French's ballads (#55 on the Folk Chart this past summer, FYI!), is available by contacting .
The publication of the trilogy marks the culmination of a seven-year project.
A.J. too is working on a book. Entitled "Ain't It a Shame," it explores the difficult subject of abuse through photographs and poems. He has been working with Lee Francis IV and is nearing the final edit. He is also exploring avenues to utilize his many well-loved monster images in artistic mediums of various kinds.
The Year That Wasn't
Well, what do you say about a year that disappeared from all our lives, except goodbye and hope we never see it again.
We have been lluckier hatn mosst...We are gainfully employed and stayed so, and we were able to do a mess of concerts and lectures onliine including ones with distant organizations and places.
We are also lucky that Liza's COVID case was not severe and she does not appear to be suffering any terrible long-term symptoms. We are blest to live in a country with an efficient vaccine and distribution policy.
And so, as the rest of the world struggles and endures horriic loss, we are able to look forward with hope, as are most of you.
We have been to our first outdooor jams. It was heaven to sit down and play with other people (all vaccinated). AND we had our first live outing at historic Union Church in Berea, at Pentecost Sunday. What joy to make music for and with people again live!
We look forward to being with all of you in the flesh in the near future.
In other news, the printed ballad collection of Katherine Jackson French, English Scottish Ballads from the HIlls of Kentucky, is finally out! Published by Berea College's Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in honor of our 110-year-old promise to Dr. French, it is a beautiful little book of ballads. Some have familiar settings, and some are unique. Contact if you are interested.
We will be teaching at Common Ground this summer again; check it out at . This is a place that has changed many lives, including ours...we'll be teaching a singing class together, Liza will be teaching singing with guitar plus a class on Dr. French, while A.J will be teaching piano and a class on Hungarian song. Liza will also be doing a special session on Dr. French. Do come! Prices are really low this year for online instruction, and you can take only one class if you like, or a whole week's worth. There are three weeks to choose from!
Finally, we have bought a house in Berea! When we came here, we thought it was a temporary move, but developments have allowed us to stay here, thrive, and now we truly have a Kentucky home! It's a usonian structure, lots of big trees, and a sunroom that will certainly be a joy to us. Plus a living room big enough for lots of live music!
Hope to SEE you in the coming months!
Peace & Syncopation,
Liza & A.J.