CDSS News

Katherine Jackson FrenchKatherine Jackson French in about 1910By Elizabeth DiSavino

Have you heard of Katherine Jackson French? Raise your hand. No? Katherine Jackson French deserves as prominent and inspirational a place in the history of Appalachian music as Olive Dame Campbell, Florence Reece and Jean Ritchie—yet no one knows her name.

Except for a short and incomplete summation of her life by undergraduate Sidney Saylor Farr in the 1970s, little interest has been expressed in Jackson’s life and work. Yet Jackson attempted to publish the very first large, scholarly collection of Southern Appalachian balladry in 1910. Had she succeeded, hers would have been the first such collection ever published, preceding Cecil Sharp and Olive Dame Campbell by seven years.

This fact begs several important questions. Who was this unusual woman who journeyed unaccompanied into the mountains of East Kentucky in 1909 to collect ballads? Why did her publication attempts fail? Had she succeeded in publishing first, would the outside world’s first crucial impression of Appalachian balladry, and Appalachians themselves, been different?

London, KY, circa 1875London, KY, circa 1875Katherine Jackson was born in 1875 in a cabin at Raccoon Springs, KY, just outside the frontier town of London. She had an unusually good education for a late 19th century woman, earning a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1906. In 1909, she collected ballads in the Cumberland Mountains and secured the promise of help in her publication efforts by Berea College President William Goodell Frost. In the end, Jackson’s publication efforts fell victim to the Ballad Wars, an intriguing stew of professional jealousies, gender role limitations, power structures, broken promises, and outright theft.

That is our loss, especially since Sharp’s 1917 English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, while a remarkable work, depicted a number of incorrect stereotypes and musical falsehoods that continue to be propagated today. At least some of this might not have been the case had Jackson published first.

First, there’s a reason people still incorrectly assume Appalachians and their music to be purely Anglo-Saxon. It’s because Cecil Sharp, William Goodell Frost, Josiah Combs, and other early like-minded people said so. Frost in particular pushed the image of Appalachians as English Elizabethans, “our contemporary ancestors,” despite the fact that most of the settlers of Appalachia were Scots, displaced to Northern Ireland, then to Pennsylvania from 1710-1800, then to Appalachia. Ulster Scots are neither Angles nor Saxons. Their ancestry is Pict and Celtic and Scotti, but not Anglo-Saxon. Yet the pure blood myth still exists.

Katherine Jackson French in cap and gownJackson in cap and gown, 1906Jackson, on the other hand, named her collection English-Scottish Ballads from the Hills of Kentucky. Just by Jackson’s title itself, it becomes clear that we are not talking about a purely Anglo-Saxon art form or line of practitioners. In fact, she was herself half Scottish (McKee). Like Sharp, Jackson was seeking British Isle ballads. But there are hints as to the diverse roots of Appalachian music sprinkled throughout her writings. For one thing, Jackson describes two boys playing banjo fiddlesticks style—one doing the fingerings, and others playing rhythms with drumsticks on the strings. This is a strange thing to find in the Kentucky mountains in 1909. Fiddlesticks style is thought to come from enslaved people in the Caribbean who were then transported to America. It’s found in Cajun music and in some kinds of Southern fiddling. What was this Caribbean/African-American style doing in the Cumberland Mountains in 1909? There is a story here that is now lost to time. But one thing is clear: it didn’t come from any kind of Anglo tradition.

Second, the ballads that Jackson found in Kentucky were clearly derived from the same English/Scottish ones that Sharp’s were, but there were definite musical differences. More of Jackson’s were in triple meter, for example, and more were based on major scales rather than the pentatonic mode that so fascinated Sharp. In a careful analysis of the three major British collections that Sharp and Jackson referred to (William Chappell’s "Popular Music of the Olden Time,” James Johnson’s "Scots Musical Museum," and John Playford’s "The Dancing Master"), as well as in Bertrand Bronson’s "The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads," we find that the pentatonic was rarely used in three of them and NEVER used in one of them (Playford). Pentatonic scales do not prove a connection to old British tunes. The major scale was in use in Europe by 1025 and in full swing by the 13th century. In fact, the use of the pentatonic scale in Appalachian tunes, if it proves anything, proves the presence of interaction with African-Americans from West Africa (where use of the pentatonic scale is plentiful) or with indigenous people of eastern North America. So ironically, this mode that Sharp held up as the symbol of whiteness probably came to Appalachian music by influence of decidedly non-white people. Nevertheless, Sharp’s pentatonic theory is one we are stuck with today. On the other hand, while many of Jackson’s ballads are in pentatonic modes, she never pushed the incorrect theory that this mode somehow proved the songs were British, and, as stated, more of hers were in major keys as well to begin with.

Finally, we come to the role of women, and we find that Sharp is really not all that interested in talking about that. Although 2/3 of Cecil Sharp’s informants were women, and his star informant, Jane Hicks Gentry, was a woman, there is no highlighting of that fact in his 23-page introduction. In fact, Sharp always refers to ballad singers as “he.” Jackson, on the other hand, dedicates her ballad collection to “The Singing Mothers of America” and states quite clearly and at length that “to the women is the credit for the preservation of the ballads due.” She talks about the women sympathizing with the pain of the characters. She talks about mothers teaching their daughters “these songs of the ancients.” It’s a very different tone and picture. To read Sharp’s introduction, one might think that the only musicians in the hills were men, and that is the first impression that outsiders got from reading Sharp’s book. Jackson puts the lie to that.

Overall, Jackson stresses the role of women and spends less time glorifying an Anglo connection. It is impossible, of course, to know for certain what would have happened if Jackson had published first. Since Sharp was a man, and because his overall collection (which included “Native” ballads and children’s songs) was larger than hers, he might have overshadowed her anyway. But it is not too late to give Jackson back her place in the history of American balladry, an esteemed position which she greatly deserves.

The following is one of the ballad variants collected by Jackson that has no musical counterpart in Sharp.

17. A Barbara Allen: Barbara Allen’s Cruelty"Barbara Allen" music

  1. In Scarlet Town, where I was born,
    There was a fair maid dwelling
    And ev'ry youth cried "Well-a-day,"
    Her name was Barbara Allen.

  2. All in the merry month of May,
    When green buds they were swellin';
    Young Jemmy Grove on his death-bed lay,
    For love of Barbara Allen.

  3. And death is painted on his face,
    And o'er his heart is stealin';
    Then haste away to comfort him,
    Oh lovely Barbara Allen.

  4. So slowly, slowly she came up,
    And slowly she came nigh him;
    And all she said when there she came,
    "Young man I think you're dying."

  5. He turned his face unto her straight,
    With deadly sorrow sighing;
    "Oh, pretty maid, come pity me,
    I'm on my death-bed lying."

  6. "If on your death-bed you do lie,
    What needs the tale you're telling?
    I cannot keep you from your death,
    Farewell," said Barbara Allen.

  7. He turned his face unto the wall,
    And death was with him dealin';
    "Adieu, adieu, my friends all,
    Adieu to Barbara Allen."

  8. As she was walking o'er the fields,
    She heard the bells a-knellin';
    And every stroke did seem to say,
    "Unworthy Barbara Allen."

  9. She turned her body round about,*
    And spied the corpse a-comin';
    "Lay down, lay down the corpse," she said,
    "That I may look upon him."

  10. With scornful eyes she looked down,
    Her cheeks with laughter swellin';
    Whilst all her friends cried out anain,
    "Unworthy Barbara Allen."

  11. The more she looked, the worse she felt,
    She fell to the ground a-cryin';
    Sayin', "If I'd done my duty today,
    I'd a saved this young man from dyin'."

  12. (Incomplete verse:
    "She got in one mile o'town...")**

  13. When he was dead and in his grave,
    Her heart was struck with sorrow;
    "Oh, mother, mother, make my bed,
    For I shall die tomorrow.

  14. "Hard-hearted creature, him to slight,
    Who loved me so dearly;
    Oh, that I'd been more kind to him,
    When he was alive and near me."

  15. She on her death-bed as she lay,
    Begged to be buried by him;
    And soon repented of the day
    That she did e'er deny him.

  16. "Farewell," she said, "ye virgins all,
    And shun the fault I fell in;
    Henceforth take warning by the fall
    Of cruel Barbara Allen."

  17. Sweet William*** died on Saturday night,
    And Barbara died on Sunday;
    Their parents died for the loss of the two,
    And were buried on Easter Monday.

  18. They buried him on one side of the church,
    And he was buried nigh her;
    And on his grave they planted a rosie bush,
    And on hers a green briar.

  19. They grew and they grew, till they grew so high
    That they could grow no higher;
    They lapped and tied in a true love knot,
    The red rose and the briar.****

* Alternative start of verse 9:
"She looked to the east, she looked to the west."

** Verse 12 is incomplete in all versions.

*** "Jemmy Grove" does not carry throughout the lyric, but switches here to "Sweet William." I have not corrected it here but duplicated it just as she wrote it.

**** Alternative ending:

She was buried in the old church yard,
And he was buried a nigh her;
On Sweet William's grave there grew a red rose,
On Barbara's a green briar.

They grew and they grew, till they grew so high
They could not grow any higher
They lapped and tied in a true love knot,
For all true lovers to admire.

(Lyrics: KJF v. 1, 2, 3, 4; Melody: v. 2; KJF's musical manuscript, lyrics, and melody, also found in Jameson.)

Elizabeth DiSavinoKatherine Jackson French book coverElizabeth DiSavino is an associate professor of music at Berea College, where she directs the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music. She has presented at the Appalachian Studies Association conference and been selected as a Spoken Word winner for the Women of Appalachia Project. Her work has been published in the Paterson Literary Review, and she has been awarded grants from the Hutchins Library Sound Archives and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

A multi-genre, multi-instrumental musician, DiSavino is one half of the acoustic duo Liza & A.J. and is a co-founder of the innovative contra dance band Illegal Contraband. She is the author of a trilogy based on the work and life of Katherine Jackson French: a biography entitled Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector (University Press of Kentucky, 2020), a CD of Jackson’s ballads entitled There Was a Fair Maid Dwelling, and a commemorative edition of Jackson’s ballad collection English-Scottish Ballads from the Hills of Kentucky, published through Berea College.

by Diane Silver & Pam Paulson, CDSS Board Members
Photos by Avia Moore

CDSS board members meet in CincinnatiCDSS Board President Gaye Fifer and Executive Director Katy German facilitate a discussion among members of Cincinnati’s English and contra dance communities

On February 7-9, 2020, the CDSS Executive Committee met in Cincinnati for its semi-annual in-person meeting. The Exec. Committee meets monthly by conference call and strives to meet twice a year in person. Meeting in person gives us a chance to reinforce the collaborative nature of our work, dig more deeply into the business of the Board, and discuss issues and ideas with a stronger feeling of cohesion. Equally important (likely more!), we hold the meeting in different locations across the U.S. and Canada, with the specific goal of getting to know one of our local communities personally and giving them a chance to connect with CDSS in a more direct way. We hope it is a labor of love. We know for sure that it is added labor, to host 10 itinerant music/dance guests all at the same time. Cincinnati Contra Dancers and Cincinnati English Country Dancers joined forces to make us welcome. We are grateful for their tremendous hospitality.

Cincinnati was one of the five founding cities that created CDSS in 1915, and traditional music and dance continue to thrive in the Queen City. They hold weekly ECD and contra dances, a more advanced contra dance one Saturday per month, plus an annual ECD weekend in the fall and contra weekend (Pigtown Fling) in the spring. Whew.

Our weekend began on Thursday evening, February 6, with the weekly English country dance. Duck Creek provided the music (Jim Coppock, Linda Coppock, Kathy Woods, Bob Frankenhoff, Rick Boyce, Tim Jamison, MM Jamison, Joan Griggs, and Dave Marcus), and longtime Cincinnati ECD leader Mike White led a lovely program, with Nicholas Rockstroh taking over for the second half.

Work Time

We held our business meeting from 9:00-4:00 on Friday and Saturday. We covered a broad range of topics. Highlights include:

  • Annual Plan: We reviewed the current annual plan to ensure that we are making steady progress on our big-picture goals, and we received a preview of the annual plan for 2020 from Executive Director Katy German.

  • Finances: We did a careful review of our budget and finances, with attention to plans for keeping our budget balanced once the final year of our special Sage grant is complete. CDSS had a strong start to the year, and we also have ambitious goals for programs and services to our Affiliates and Members that require robust fundraising. The Board Treasurer, Finance Committee, and Fund Development Committee work in concert to monitor our financial details. They also plan and lead a range of revenue strategies to meet our operational expenses, and to fund scholarships for camps and the grant programs for affiliate groups and members

  • Affiliate Renewals: A proposal from the Executive Director (ED) was discussed to combine the renewal dates for membership, insurance, and 501(c)(3) status for Affiliates. This means Affiliate groups have just one renewal date to deal with each year, rather than three. We also discussed providing the authority for the ED to adjust the Affiliate membership free for groups facing financial straits and to adjust the Affiliate fee for Canadian groups to compensate for the U.S.-Canada exchange rate that has made affiliation more expensive for Canadian groups. Both of these proposals were subsequently approved by the full Board and enacted by staff this spring.

  • Inclusivity Statement: We decided to begin work to develop an inclusivity statement for CDSS programs (staff is now in the process and drafting and reviewing with community members) and to commit to Board and staff training in this area (scheduled for the Annual Meeting in April).

  • Committee and Task Group Reports: We reviewed reports from all of our committees and task groups, where the bulk of the Board work is done. The plans and accomplishments of this work include:

    • A joint board-staff task group is working on creating mission and vision statements for our camps, to provide more guidance and clear messaging for one of our oldest programs.

    • The Community Culture and Safety Task Group is making steady progress on a writing guide to help local organizers craft courtesy and etiquette guidelines for their communities to especially address issues of safety and inclusion.

    • The Governance Committee has done yeoman’s work crafting a new strategy for succession planning for the board officer positions. This draft plan received a good deal of discussion, with many ideas providing guidance for the committee. This is a good example of the kind of deep work which meeting in person facilitates.

Sustenance

Our hard work was sustained by a generous supply of snacks, coffee, and soft drinks, including a variety of homemade treats, all contributed by local dancers and organized by caretaker extraordinaire Mary Rekers. We were also rewarded with a catered Middle-Eastern lunch on Friday (thank you, Betsy Lehman for organizing!) and a beautiful and generous luncheon at the very tasteful and tasty Grand Finale restaurant on Saturday, thanks to Jeneene Brengelman and Charles Wallner. There was also a fabulous community potluck dinner on Friday night with the English country dancers, organized by Jim and Linda Coppock, and a potluck dinner (thanks to Jeneene and Charles again) plus an amazing snack spread, organized by Amy Foltz, at the Saturday night contra dance. We also were honored by a beautiful Sunday brunch at the home of Ken Irwin and Betsy Lehman. Dancers everywhere take community meals very seriously, and Cincinnati is no exception. So many contributors, such generous offerings. We are grateful for being so well-fed by the community for six meals! We especially appreciated the environmentally-conscious touch of volunteers (led by Jim and Linda Coppock on Friday and Amy Foltz on Saturday) bringing real dishes and flatware and doing the work of washing up!

Play Time

Supertrad band playing musicSupertrad (Sam Bartlett, banjo; Eric Schedler, accordion; and Brian Lindsay, fiddle) play for Cincinnati’s Saturday night contra dance.

Of course, we also danced and sang! In addition to the regular Thursday night ECD, we were treated to a bonus ECD evening on Friday night, with CDSS board members Brooke Friendly, Gaye Fifer, and Beverly Francis sharing the calling, and music by Cincinnati’s Ed Strelau Band, with Kathy Woods, Astrid Mast, Doug Mast, and Joanne Degreg joining Ed. On Saturday, we enjoyed the band Supertrad with Kathy Anderson calling at the regular second-Saturday contra dance. A fine time was had by all! For those able to stay late on Sunday, there was a choice of the regular shape-note singing group, or the Queen City Balladeers, a coffeehouse-style evening of singer-songwriter performances.

Community Engagement

Our weekend culminated in a productive community meeting on Sunday with leaders and interested participants from both local dance groups discussing issues and concerns to the local community. CDSS Board President Gaye Fifer and Executive Director Katy German co-facilitated the discussion, starting with a brainstorm list of successes and then moving to challenges.

Successes include an active and thriving ECD group, with a corps of callers big enough to support a weekly dance and a growing corps of musicians. In the contra community, successes include a new sound system, continuing success of the annual Pigtown Fling, and a strong start to exploring gender-free dance. Both groups enjoy a growing cadre of volunteers, a quality of dancing that welcomes new dancers and raises the level of dancing in the hall, and a strong regional network of mutually supportive dances, with coordination and collaboration across four cities. There is a strong and deeply rooted sense of kindness and caring in this community from its long history of community dancing.

Challenges include board burnout, over-extended leadership, the need to engage new ideas and energy (especially getting younger dancers on the board), the need for guidance regarding use of copyrighted tunes by local bands, financial stressors, growing and nurturing the pool of local callers, connection between the ECD and contra communities, and significantly, a recent debate and decision-making process regarding the adoption of gender-neutral terms within the contra community, which has left some wounds that will require healing.

CDSS board members participate in a danceCDSS Executive Committee members join Cincinnati dancers at English and contra dances in February.

CDSS does not have magic answers to these difficult issues, but we were able to provide some insights from the benefit of external distance, and more importantly, reassurance that these issues are not unique to this community. It is tremendously helpful to the CDSS Board to have the trust of local members to share these challenges so openly and honestly. It helps us understand the struggles at the local level and focus our efforts to provide whatever resources we can to many communities. And importantly, Cincinnati’s challenges will become a resource for other groups encountering similar issues. In this way, Cincinnati once again demonstrates its national leadership, as it did 100 years ago in helping to establish CDSS.

In addition to the individuals named above, many thanks to Christine Armstrong, Susan and Jim Vogt, John McCain, Terri Spiegel, and Debra Barrett from the Cincinnati Contra Dancers and Mike Self, Mike White, and Jim and Linda Coppock from the Cincinnati English Country Dancers for all their organizing work. And extra thanks to John Brockman and Dianne Frick and Hazel and Aren Jodock for rounding out the home-hosting. We love Cincinnati!

The next traveling Exec. Meeting is scheduled for St. Louis at the end of October. We are crossing our fingers and maintaining optimism and hope that COVID-19 will be behind us and we will be able keep up our tradition and valuable strategy of meeting in person with another local community.

The full Board gathers in person each April in Massachusetts (when not thwarted by a pandemic). The Executive Committee meets in person twice throughout the year in different communities across the continent. All other meetings during the year are held via teleconference. The Executive Committee is charged with conducting the business of CDSS between Annual Meetings. Click here for more information about your CDSS Board.

CDSS board members participate in a danceCDSS Executive Committee members join Cincinnati dancers at English and contra dances in February.

New timber frame dance pavilion built on the 50-Acre site of the future AlgomaTrad Centre, St. Joseph Island.New timber frame dance pavilion built on the 50-Acre site of the future AlgomaTrad Centre, St. Joseph Island.by Julie Schryer & Pat O’Gorman

Canadian flagCamp Scholarships Just for Canadians!

In 2020, CDSS is setting aside $3,000 of scholarship funds to help Canadians attend our camp programs. This is in recognition of the additional costs involved in international travel and currency exchange. Apply by filling out the form within camp registration (see the registration page for details). March 23 is the priority registration deadline. Scholarship awards are made in late March, and applicants are notified of scholarship offers in early April. Questions about applying for a Canadian Scholarship? Feel free to call 413-203-5467, ext. 101 or email camp@cdss.org.

AlgomaTrad (the Algoma Traditional Music and Dance organization) was founded by volunteer Artistic Directors Julie Schryer and Pat O’Gorman, with the support of a wonderful community of parents of local learners. The organization was incorporated in 2004 as a not-for-profit arts organization operating in the rural Algoma region of Northeastern Ontario, along the North Shore of Lake Huron. Julie and Pat are life-long musicians steeped in the traditional music of their youth, with over 40 years of experience each in learning, performing, recording, teaching, and organizing.

AlgomaTrad first formed to present an annual one-week immersive summer camp with a philosophy of inter- and multigenerational learning and celebration. The AlgomaTrad Family Camp brings together experienced and renowned traditional musicians, dancers, callers, and artists to provide living traditions mentorship to local and non-local learners through workshops, performances, community dances, and tune and song creation. The camp grew quickly to capacity by its second year and continues to operate annually with over 100 campers, 20-25 staff, and 30 -40 volunteers.

Over 16 years, AlgomaTrad has supported approximately 250 musicians, dancers, and artists as performers/teachers for the camp. With a few exceptions, these musicians and artists are representatives of Canadian cultural traditions. Michigan dance caller and potter Dan Gorno was also an important member of the organization, as an artist and a soulful champion, until his untimely death in 2015.

Since 2004, AlgomaTrad has also organized over 300 events, concert series, workshops, in- and after-school programs, dances, and fundraisers. In 2018, an annual Fall Heritage Arts Festival was created, which, while including traditional music and dance workshops and performances, focuses on heritage craft workshops, including blacksmithing, weaving, fiber arts, green wood carving (Sloyd), wool skirting and needle felting, bookbinding, basketmaking, knitting, natural dyes, and pyrography.

AlgomaTrad hosts four well-attended multigenerational, contra/square/ceili community dances annually and organizes workshops by traditional artists from inside and outside the region, to inspire local learners/celebrators of traditional arts throughout the year. Over the last 16 years approximately 20,000 learners, audience members, and artists have participated in AlgomaTrad’s programs and events. Public support for all events and local awareness of the AlgomaTrad as an important local cultural organization continues to grow. In 2019, the organization had over 130 volunteers help with infrastructure building and upkeep, planting, cleaning, administration, accounting--the list is endless. AlgomaTrad events and programs are both empowering and community-building in nature, and attract families and individuals of all ages through their joyful and inclusive nature.

AlgomaTrad has accomplished this while maintaining a philosophy of economic accessibility through the needs-based Nicholas Missere Bursary Fund, which has enabled over 150 people, including entire families, to attend the camp, as well as helping to provide workshop opportunities throughout the year. AlgomaTrad fundraises through various events including a live and silent auction during the camp and a trivia night fundraiser in the spring.

AlgomaTrad has also created partnerships with over 25 arts, cultural, service, educational, and environmental organizations, municipalities and First Nations, and industry partners. These collaborations not only allow AlgomaTrad to expand its programming, but they bring more awareness of the organization to the region while helping local community groups to host their own successful events. For several of these collaborations AlgomaTrad was able to share artist appearances at the camp or concert series’ with local events, which increased artist earnings while providing high-caliber artists from outside the Algoma region at an affordable price for local organizations.

One of AlgomaTrad’s most memorable collaborations occurred with Thinking Rock Community Arts (TRCA). Partially under the auspices of a Canada Council collaborative grant, the organization offered musical advice and direction for TRCA’S community arts play “The Rivers Speak,” an intercultural work that blended local First Nation and settler stories and music into a fabulous community theatre experience. A work-in-progress production of this work was workshopped at the AlgomaTrad Family Camp in 2015 and performed as part of the Folk in the Landing Festival the same year. Music for the play was developed by AlgomaTrad Camp staff and learners in 2016 and 2017. “The Rivers Speak” was performed for two magical weeks at the Mississagi First Nations Pow Wow grounds in September 2017. A recording of this project is due out in 2020.

AlgomaTrad has been supported by numerous grants from various organizations, among them the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), Heritage Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts. AlgomaTrad is currently developing a year round traditional arts centre on St. Joseph Island and recently completed a new timberframe dance pavilion with funding from an OTF Capital grant. The organization is planning to launch a major crowdsourcing campaign this spring to support the traditional art centre infrastructure project.

Two years ago AlgomaTrad and its supporters secured a 50-acre, former Music Camp property on St. Joseph Island to develop the AlgomaTrad Centre. Since then, AlgomaTrad has:

  • created an in-depth business plan and produced designs for upgrading the infrastructure on the site, which will include winterizing the main building containing the dining hall, dorm rooms, and washrooms; upgrading the septic system; adding an up-to-date kitchen facility; building a new concert hall and studio spaces; and upgrading the grounds for accessibility;

  • secured a significant funding commitment from the provincial government;

  • built a magical dance pavilion and cleaned up the site enough to hold camp there in 2019;

  • partnered with local schools and volunteers to revitalize the Two Tree River that flows through the property by planting over 1700 native trees and shrubs thanks to a grant from the Ontario Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund.

Besides being a beautiful and environmentally-sustainable centre where both local people and visitors to St. Joseph Island can immerse themselves in hands-on learning, the Centre will benefit the Island and Algoma Region through tourism, local employment, support for local farms and businesses, and as a catalyst for new arts entrepreneurship on the Island.

When finished the Centre will be a cultural legacy for the Island, the Algoma Region, and the North. If you are interested in helping to support this project, please subscribe to the AlgomaTrad Newsletter at algomatrad.ca or find us on Facebook. Think about attending an AlgomaTrad event—we’d love to see you!

About AlgomaTrad’s Artistic Directors

Julie Schryer’s Franco-Ontarian home in Sault Ste. Marie, ON was filled with traditional music and song. She studied piano throughout her youth but really loved playing traditional music with four of her brothers, all award-winning fiddlers, including playing for local Irish Dancers and at numerous fiddle contests throughout the ‘70s. She was also a sought-after accompanist in the Canadian old-time fiddle scene during this time. Starting in 1987, Julie focused on farming and raising her family of five children. Julie recorded and toured with her brother Pierre Schryer in the late ‘90s and has taught at the Goderich Celtic College, the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp in California, and the Northwest Fiddle Fest in Smithers, BC. For the last 18 years, Julie has played with the Brian Pickell Band. Julie’s five grown children are fine artists, musicians, dancers, makers, and gardeners. As a family, Julie, her partner Pat O’Gorman, their daughter Áine, and Julie’s sons Zach and Benoit play concerts, dances and events throughout Ontario and the U.S. as The O’Schraves. 

Pat O’Gorman began playing bagpipes 53 years ago in the Ontario Highland Piping world and has studied traditional music in Ireland, Brittany, and Cape Breton. He has been playing traditional music on wooden concert (Irish) flute for 40 years and plays Uilleann pipes and tin whistle as well. Pat has been part of the Canadian trad/Celtic music scene for 40 years with Na Cabarfeidh, Rare Air, Morgaine Le Fay, The Windbags, and most recently with The Brian Pickell Band and Pat and Julie’s family group, The O’Schraves. He has toured throughout North America and Europe, has appeared on over 30 recordings, and has been recorded for numerous television and radio programs and for several films including Canadian features “Men with Brooms” and the 2009 release “One Week.” Pat has taught at the Goderich Celtic College, the North American Comhaltas Conference, the Boston College Gaelic Roots Week, Chris Norman’s Boxwood Flute Week in Lunenburg, NS, and the Northwest Fiddle Fest in Smithers, BC. He acted both as Chair and instructor for many years at the Chris Langan Irish Traditional Music Weekend in Toronto. Pat has played countless ceili and contra dances throughout Ontario and the U.S. 

Magic Awaits

Experience our 2020 summer dance, music, and song camps

Get ready to reserve your spot at one of our MAGICAL camps today. Mark your calendar-registration opens in January!

Choose from nine weeks and four locations! Scholarships available!


Butterflies fly from outstretched hands toward happy dancersAnonymous Major Gift Received

by CDSS Executive Director Katy German

"It is with immense gratitude that CDSS announces the receipt of an anonymous $250,000 gift dedicated to furthering CDSS’s mission and work across the continent. The donors, a couple who met through dance, have seen first-hand the power of dancing, singing, and making music together. Through their dance communities, they’ve forged lifelong friendships and witnessed people rally to support one another when times are hard. Their communities have warmly welcomed new folks seeking haven from loneliness and isolation and supported those seeking fun and recreation."

Read the full letter.


CDSS News Fall 20192019 Fall News is now online!

Catch up on all the latest news and articles from CDSS. Not a member? Join today and receive the entire news delivered to your door along with other great benefits.

Fall 2019 CDSS News


Kelsey WellsIntroducing our new Marketing & Communications Manager!

Kelsey Wells of Murfreesboro, TN, will join the CDSS team on November 4th! She will be a remote employee ready for action having previously coordinated the Marketing at Middle Tennessee State University. Kelsey is a dancer and musician with connections in the Southeast and beyond. 


Dancing WellPublished Study Shows Dance Helps Veterans with PTSD

by Deborah Denenfeld

Dancing Well: The Soldier Project is thrilled to announce that our scientific study has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterans Studies. Results show the program of traditional dance, live music, and community significantly improved the wellness of veterans with PTSD. Family members and loved ones also showed improvement in wellness. The wellness score was a composite of multiple psychological surveys, specifically, showing improvements in feelings of connectedness, feelings of optimism, and a reduction in isolation. This is important because people with PTSD tend to isolate, which often leads to increased depression, substance abuse, and suicide. To our knowledge, Dancing Well is the only program in the world utilizing traditional dance and community to help veterans and their loved ones affected by PTSD.

Read the full article


Affiliate SurveyThe CDSS Affiliate Network Speaks: A preliminary look at the 1st annual CDSS Affiliate Survey

by Emily Addison & Katy German

We are thrilled to report some of the findings from CDSS’s recent Affiliate member survey! Yes… we (Katy & Emily) confess to being data geeks. An impressive 48% of CDSS Affiliates participated in the survey, and 94% of respondents continued through to the final few questions.

Read the full article


Country Dance & Song OnlineCall for Articles!

CD+S Online, CDSS's peer-reviewed scholarly journal, is seeking articles that explore how Anglo-American dance and song traditions continue to be relevant in the age of the internet and the cell phone. What's your passion? Check out our past articles and submit your paper or proposal to Allison Thompson, General Editor, by February 1, 2020.

Read CD+S Online 


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