Published April 10, 2018

The Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities announces the 2018-2019 class of Master Artists in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Master artists are selected through a competitive process in all forms of Virginia’s expressive cultures. The eight new teams join more than one hundred pairs of masters and apprentices who have taken part in the Apprenticeship Program since its inception in 2002. On Sunday, May 6, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, the Virginia Folklife Program will partner with James Monroe’s Highland to host the Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at the historic home of James Monroe (2050 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, VA 22902). Now in its fifteenth year, the Showcase is a free, family-friendly event that celebrates the traditional music, crafts, and foodways of Virginia, introducing the public to the master artists and apprentices who keep the traditions alive.

At the Apprenticeship Showcase on Sunday, May 6, audiences will enjoy more than ten live musical performances and a dazzling display of engaging demonstrations. Special guests include the Twin Creeks Stringband, one of Southwest Virginia’s finest old-time bands, among many others. Featured foods include real Brunswick stew by the Proclamation Stew Crew, a “soul supper” prepared by the Ingram Family of Richmond, and fried apple pies from Frances Davis.

“Through this unique program, we work with incredibly accomplished musicians and craftspeople who are dedicated to passing along vitally important art forms to future generations,” said Jon Lohman, Virginia State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “Participants in this year’s showcase exemplify the remarkable range and diversity of folk traditions in Virginia.”

Introducing the 2018–2019 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:

  • Master gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong of King and Queen County and apprentice Samantha Willis
  • Master of jazz and swing guitar Bert Carlson of Bath County and apprentice Danny Knicely
  • Master baklava maker Sondus Asad Moussa of Harrisonburg and apprentice Sanaa Abdul Jalil
  • Master hotrod car builder Jeff Bennett of Roanoke and apprentice Jeremy Bennett
  • Master of Vietnamese Dan Bau (monochord instrument) Nam Phuong Nguyen of Fairfax County and apprentice Anh Dien Nguyen
  • Master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat of Falls Church and apprentices Emma and Ella Chuluunbat
  • Master moonshine maker Chris Prillaman of Franklin County and apprentice Tanner Talley
  • Returning master of the Galax-style dulcimer Phyllis Gaskins of Rockingham County and apprentice Anna Stockdale

Celebrating the completion of the 2017–2018 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:

  • Master candy maker Gene Williams of Chesapeake and apprentice Lee Bagley
  • Master of logsmithing Gary Horton of Carroll County and apprentice Tommy Horton
  • Master Sephardic ballad singer Susan Gaeta of Fairfax County and apprentice Gina Sobel
  • Master of soul food cooking Christine Ingram-Murphy of Henrico County and apprentice Cheryl Yancey
  • Master of Bolivian mesa ceremonies and rituals Julia Garcia of Arlington and apprentice Gloria Encinas
  • Master banjo maker Greg Galbreath of Giles County and apprentice Peter Keller
  • Master fiddler Nate Leath of Rockingham County and apprentices Eli and Aila Wildman
  • Returning master decoy carver Grayson Chesser of Accomack County and apprentices Drew Sturgis, P.G. Ross, Mark Ross, and Andy Dunton
  • Returning master of classical Iranian and Persian music Nader Majd of Fairfax County and apprentice Ali Reza Analouei

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program pairs experienced master artists with gifted apprentices for one-on-one, nine-month learning experiences, ensuring that art forms are passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. More than workshops or lessons, apprenticeship learning takes place in the art forms’ traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses and contextualizing the practices within the larger cultural landscape. The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program receives funding support from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Anonymous Donor, Friends of Folklife individual donors, UVA Community Credit Union, and Quantitative Investment Management. 

Sponsored By

NEA Artworks Friends of FolklifeAnonymous Donor

UVA Community Credit UnionQIMWTJU

James Monroe HighlandCville WIne and CountryCville Weekly

About the Virginia Folklife Program

The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of Virginia Humanities, is dedicated to the documentation, presentation, support, and celebration of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. For more than twenty-five years, the program has documented the Commonwealth’s music and material traditions and shared those histories through hands-on workshops, performances, exhibitions, audio and video recordings, and apprenticeships across Virginia. For more information, visit VirginiaFolklife.org.

About Virginia Humanities

Virginia Humanities connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. As the state humanities council, Virginia Humanities reaches an estimated annual audience of 41 million through community programs and festivals, grants and fellowships, websites and digital initiatives, publications and teacher institutes, radio programs and podcasts, and the Virginia Center for the Book. To learn more, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.

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