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Banjo Player Rufus Kasey Featured in Film, Discussion for NEH Institute

For immediate release:
May 30, 2006

 Dean Browell ,  (540) 365-4301,

    Filmmaker Cece Conway' will present her film on Rufus Kasey, a black banjo player from the Peaks of Otter as a part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers. The presentation will be held at 7pm, June 9th in the Ferrum College Stanely Library Annex, room 201. Clips from the video "Rufus Kasey of the Peaks of Otter" will be followed by discussion with Cece Conway. The public is welcome free of charge.

         Rufus Kasey (d.2002) was an exceptional African American banjo player who carried on the tradition that brought the African gourd ancestor of the banjo to the Virginia heartland. His banjo music anchors his identity in his African roots, expresses values and fears of his history and life, and helps inspire others and strengthen community. A high-resolution image of Rufus Kasey is available here: (please credit the photo to Scott Odell).

    The video is funded by Glen Raven, NEA, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, NEA and ASU.

    Cece Conway, Professor of English & Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State Univeristy, is the author African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia and co-maker of the Smithsonian Folkways: Black Banjo Songsters of NC & VA CD, funded by NEA and VFH. She is currently working on the African Roots of Old Time Music Video, funded by NEA and others.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers will be held on the Ferrum College campus June 5th – 30th, 2006. From a range of disciplines and at both campus and community locations, the Institute will examine Appalachian issues that link regional study to the liberal arts. Leaders expect to choose participants from many regions of the country, not just Appalachia. The twenty-five teachers selected for the NEH Summer Institute, "Regional Study and the Liberal Arts: An Appalachian Exemplar," will receive stipends of $3,000 each. Principal institute faculty are Dwight Billings, Cece Conway, Richard Couto, Denise Giardina, Patricia Johnson, Frank Kilgore, George Loveland, Susan Mead, Roddy Moore, Vaughan Webb, David Whisnant, and Daniel Woods. The director is Peter Crow. Inquiries to Sandy Doss: (540) 365-4321.

      Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges. For more information on Ferrum, visit


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