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NJ Folk Festival Information
|Previous Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients|
2007 - Mike Rafferty
Mr. Rafferty was born in 1926 and grew up in Ballinakill, East Galway in the heart of a locality steeped in the very best of old-style traditional music. Mike is an outstanding exponent of the East Galway style of flute playing. He learned his music from his father, Tom “Barrel” who played flute and uilleann pipes. Mike immigrated to the United States in 1949 and has appeared at an extensive array of concerts and festivals all over America including the Smithsonian Institution’s Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976 and toured with the Green Fields of America.
Mike has appeared on many recordings and has recorded three albums with his daughter Mary; The Dangerous Reel, The Old Fireside Music, The Road from Ballinakill and most recently his solo CD Speed 78. Mike has devoted a lifetime to exploring, performing, and teaching traditional Irish music on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Rafferty has received several awards from various organizations for his contributions to traditional Irish music. In 2003 he was named Irish Echo's Traditional Musician of the Year. Recently, he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Mid-Atlantic Region Comhaltas Ceoltóirí, recognized by New York University, Kerry Men's Association of New York, Galway Men's Association of New York and in Bogota, New Jersey, the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ) named themselves "The Michael Rafferty Branch of CCÉ”.
2006 - Don Yoder
Don Yoder is a pioneer in the study of American regional and ethnic cultures. Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Folklore & Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Yoder brought the term "folklife" to the United States and introduced its present use to the field of study. He has published widely on religious folklife and regional folklife, notably publishing works on the folklife of the Pennsylvania Germans. His books include Discovering American Folklife: Essays on Folk Culture and the Pennsylvania Dutch, Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols & Their Meaning, and most recently The Pennsylvania German Broadside: A History and Guide (Publications of the Pennsylvania German Society).
Along with Alfred L. Shoemaker and Walter E. Boyer, Dr. Yoder built a folk culture program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which developed into the Pennsylvania Folklife Society, and was longtime editor of the journal Pennsylvania Folklife. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, a position which signifies his great contributions to the field of folklife study, and continues his long-standing research and publications on the folklore and folklife of Pennsylvania Germans.
Dr. Yoder taught many graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania over the years. Among them was Angus Kress Gillespie, who studied under the supervision of Dr. Yoder in the early 1970s. Gillespie went on to become a professor at Rutgers, where he founded the New Jersey Folk Festival in 1975. Gillespie attributes his early interest in folk festivals directly to Don Yoder who encouraged his graduate students to pursue not just fieldwork, research, and teaching, but also to look for opportunities in what has come to be called "applied folklore." Dr. Yoder was generous with his time and advice to younger folklorists like Gillespie who worked to establish regional folk festivals. So, in a real sense, Don Yoder was the original inspiration for the founding of the NJFF. Thus, we are honored to present Don Yoder with the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award.
2005 - Joe Glazer
Folksinger and social historian Joe Glazer has been singing songs of social commentary for more than fifty years. His voice and guitar have been heard in forty-nine states of the union. He has performed in sixty foreign countries where he interpreted American life in song and story for the United States Information Agency
Joe Glazer studied for his Masters degree in labor and industrial relations at the University of Wisconsin and at New York University. He has performed at dozens of labor conventions, on picket lines, and at meetings of industrial relations groups.
He has been a consultant and performer at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Building Museum, and the Kennedy Center. His songs and comments have been heard on the Today show, the Charles Kuralt CBS Sunday Morning program, and on Ted Kopel’s Nightline, C-Span Television presented him in a half- hour program. He has been the subject of two half-hour productions by Public Television and is the star of a documentary movie, Songs and Stories of Labor, produced by Rutgers University. He has been interviewed many times on All Things Considered, the prize-winning program of National Public Radio.Glazer has sung at the White House and in Madison Square Garden, as well ast demonstrations for civil rights, women's rights, and political and labor rallies.
2004 - Harry V. Shourds
Harry is an authentic American craftsman who creates duck decoys and other shore birds from wood. A native of Seaville, New Jersey, his work is rooted in the Barnegat Bay regional style of duck decoy carving. This style features followed out duck bodies (for better floatation), and naturalistic heads. The ducks are usually made of cedar and the bodies are two hollow pieces with each head attached separately. A frequent craft demonstrator at the NJFF< Mr. Shourds’ work has been features in New Jersey Outdoors, Bird Watchers Digest, and Audubon Society Magazine. Recently, he was featured in a Japanese television documentary about American folk art. His passion for authenticity earned him a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
2003 - Harold and Dorothy Buckelew
Harold and Dorothy Buckelew have been playing bluegrass music since the early 1970s. As they met an increasing number of fellow pickers and fans, several of them worked together to found the Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association (BOTMA) of New Jersey in 1978. BOTMA is a non-profit, non-political, non-sectarian organization run entirely on a volunteer basis. It still maintains its founding principles and goals, all of which center around the preservation and perpetuation of bluegrass and old-time music.
2002 - John Jackson
John Jackson was a talented musician with a down-to-earth attitude. He was skilled in the Piedmont-style blues singing and guitar picking. While never achieving mainstream popularity, he received numerous folk awards and became a favorite at festivals around the country and abroad. In 1986, he received this nation’s highest honor in the traditional folk arts, a National Heritage Fellowship.
2001 - Don Kissil
Don is being honored for his extensive contributions to the furtherance of bluegrass music over the last thirty years. For five years Don was the editor-in-chief of Pickin’ Magazine, which chronicled primarily bluegrass and old-time country music, but also covered Cajun and other acoustic indigenous genres. Through his direction, the publication contributed greatly to expanding the popularizing of bluegrass worldwide, particularly in Japan and Western Europe. Don’s interviews and feature articles have appeared around the world in numerous other bluegrass and folk publications in several languages. In addition to bluegrass performers, his interview subjects have included such folk heroes as Pete Seeger and such country diamonds as Dolly Parton.
2000 - Ola Bella Reed
Ola Belle Reed, the “banjo pickin’ girl,” was born in 1916 in Ashe County, North Carolina to a musical family. Her father and grandfather passed along their musical talents. At an early age she became a versatile instrumentalist playing the organ, piano, guitar, and excelling on the banjo in the “claw hammer” style. As a singer and songwriter, she performed at local community gatherings, schools, dances and in churches.
1996 - Dr. Mary T. Hufford
For outstanding scholarship in her book, Chaseworld: Foxhunting and Storytelling in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, Dr. Mary T. Hufford of Arlington, Virginia is honored with the 1996 NJFF Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Folklife Scholarship of NJ. Published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1992, Chaseworld is a study of the foxhunters who listen to hounds in the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. Hufford examines the activities that occur before, during and after the foxchases and analyzes the stories that hunters tell about chases. Hufford is a Folklife Specialist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. She is also the author of One Space, Many Places: Folklife and the Land Use in New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve.
1995 - Merce Ridgway, Jr.
Called the “Woody Guthrie of New Jersey” by Bess Lomax Hawes of the Folk Art Division of the National Endowment for the Arts, Merce Ridgway, comes from a unique tradition of musicians from the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. A clam digger by trade, he is the current leader of “The Pinehawkers,” a group started by his father, Merce Ridgway, Sr. Ridgway, Jr. has not only carried on the tradition of family songwriting, but has also been very active in the preservation and continuation of the music of the Pine Barrens. In 1975, he helped found the Pinelands Cultural Society which was created to preserve and present to the public aspects of the musical heritage of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
1994 - Gladys Eayre and Janice Sherwood
Besides playing a key role in the development and continuation of the Pinelands Cultural Society, both Gladys Eayre and Janice Sherwood are also two extremely talented and essential musicians of a group known as the Pineconers. The Pinelands Cultural Society, which they helped organized in 1975, works to preserve and present to the public aspects of the musical heritage of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. As a group which evolved from the Pine Barrens, the Pineconers’ music dramatically expresses their love of the land.
1990 - Milton Marikakis
Mr. Milton Marikakis was chosen because of his pride in his Greek heritage and his commitment to the cultural understanding in the New Brunswick community. Born and raised in New Brunswick, he was a member of the 1938 graduating class of New Brunswick High School. He has been involved in the Greek community of the New Brunswick area since 1939 and has been a member of the Board of Trustees in the New Brunswick Greek community. He has been president of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association), a fraternal organization for the past six years.
1989 - Anne Lutz
The award is being made in recognition of her collecting efforts in the 1940’s. From her original collection of disc recordings, the Marimac Company of Little Ferry, NJ was able to release the cassette “Everett Pitt: Up Agin the Mountains.” This included unaccompanied Anglo-American ballads and songs from the Ramapo Mountains of NJ performed by Everett Pitt (1886-1954). The cassette was recognized by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress for inclusion in their Selected List of American Folk Music and Folk Recordings. The purpose of the music is to help promote the best recordings of American folk music and folklore issued by various companies and organizations during the previous year. Anne Lutz’s efforts made up a significant contribution in preserving New Jersey’s heritage. Her cassette of Everett Pitt’s ballads and songs is a valuable resource for students, teachers, and libraries. The cassette has been widely praised for its inclusion of sufficient documentation to make it an effective tool for education.
1988 - Paul Cadwell of Princeton, NJ
1987 - James Albertson of Mauricetown, NJ
1986 - Kathy DeAngelo of Voorhees, NJ
1985 - John White of Chatham, NJ
1984 - Herbert Halpert of St. John’s, Newfoundland
1983 - Peter Kara of New Brunswick, NJ
Born in Nagygejocz, Hungary in 1902, Peter Kara was brought to America when he was two years old. In the early 1920’s Peter and his brother, Julius, formed the “Ifjusagi Zenekar,” a six-piece orchestra. In the recordings of that orchestra, one can hear the bell-like accent of the czimbalom, played throughout. The czimbalom is a trapezoid shaped stringed instrument about four feet wide, on legs, played by striking the strings with mallets. When he was 17, his father died and he became the head of the family, the sole support of his mother, 2 sisters, and a brother. To earn more, he moved the family to Akron, Ohio, where work was available at a rubber plant. He bought his first czimbalom in Ohio. He soon became a musician with the Steve Vargas Orchestra in Cleveland. Several years later, the family returned to New Brunswick. The orchestra has a loyal community following who turn out wherever they play – dances, concerts, picnics and charity events. For more than 30 years, Peter has enjoyed brightening Sundays for the people of Central New Jersey over radio station WCTC and its program “Hungarian Melody Time.” On this show, he shares his good taste and enthusiasm for both contemporary and traditional Hungarian recorded music.
1982 - Richard and Marlene Levine of Middletown, NJ