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.


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 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

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 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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Margaret MacArthurMargaret MacArthur. Photo courtesy of Megan Littlehales.

by Nora Rodes

Many people first think of and credit prominent male collectors—such as Francis Child, Cecil Sharp, Phillips Barry, and John and Alan Lomax—for the preservation of American folk song. Yet women have always played an essential role in collecting and sustaining traditional music. Between 1920 and 1960, it was the life’s work of many New England women, including Fanny Hardy Eckstorm, Mary Winslow Smythe, Helen Hartness Flanders, and Eloise Hubbard Linscott. And for several decades thereafter it was Margaret MacArthur’s work as well.

I’d heard Margaret spoken of with deep affection since I was 11, but knew little more than that she was an important musician and collector; and that like me she loved ballads. The first CDs I could obtain were not the Child ballads I was expecting, but songs of Vermont, often sung with her family. And the first article was her granddaughter Robin’s, in Orion Magazine, in which Robin wrote that Margaret sang because she “wanted a taproot—a means to a vertical sense of place.” So when I visited the American Folklife Center to listen to the interview from Margaret’s performance there in 2005, I was already wondering about her connections between music and place. Why was Margaret so dedicated to preserving and sharing the traditional music of Vermont? And why did she become such a beloved and influential member of a vibrant, extensive community?

In that AFC interview, Margaret speaks at length about her mother’s second marriage to a forester, and the many different states she moved through in her transient childhood: Arizona, the Midwest, South Carolina, Missouri, and California. But she also talks about all the music she heard in her 1930s through 1940s travels; and her five years in the Ozarks, where traditional music was an important component of community. It seemed that music—like her mother’s lullabies and her Missouri neighbors’ songs—gave her a place to feel loved and safe.

When she eventually returned to her birthplace, Chicago, Margaret married; and in 1948 she and her husband John moved to Vermont for his professorship at Marlboro College. With two young children and very little money, they began to restore what the porcupines and weather had left of a remote and abandoned 1803 farmhouse with views of the Dover Hills. And Margaret began to know her newest home from two songbooks: Edith Sturgis’ Songs from the Hills of Vermont and Helen Hartness Flanders’ Country Songs of Vermont. When she learned that Edith’s hills were also hers—the Dover Hills—it was “an eye-opener.” She sought out more Vermont ballads, tunes and source singers. Two of her most important relationships were with Fred Atwood (then in his 80’s), whose father had sung for Edith Sturgis; and Helen Hartness Flanders, the preeminent New England collector who became her friend and mentor.

In 1962, Moses Asch, then director of Smithsonian Folkways Records, asked Margaret to send him some music; the recordings became Folksongs of Vermont—the first of her nine CDs of traditional music. For over four decades, until her death in 2006, Margaret continued to collect, perform, and teach folk music. She frequently performed at folk programs and festivals, often with her own children—Dan, Gary and Megan—and often original songs of life and events in Vermont as well as traditional ballads. She shared music at informal song circles and other gatherings. As a visiting artist, she taught children songs she learned from their grandparents and how to write songs of their own.

But Margaret didn’t just enthusiastically join and contribute her talents to the folk community. Perhaps most uniquely and importantly, she provided a new place for that community to be: the homestead she’d create for herself and her family. Margaret was warm, friendly, joyful, vibrant—a beacon for the music community around her and traveling past her. And as her daughter Megan’s accounts of growing up amidst expected and impromptu visitors, and the letters sent to Margaret, attest, the homestead itself became a vital component in the preservation and continued organic evolution of Vermont folk music.

Margaret’s childhood, and multiple experiences of adapting to and attempting to embrace each new place as home, gave her a unique perspective on what it means and why it matters. Many folk collectors have undertaken field work asking: “What songs have traveled here, have settled into this place? What can we find here?” Although she loved ancient ballads, Margaret approached her understanding of Vermont asking, more primarily: “What songs have grown from this place, what is it as itself, and what more will we sing?” She brought her own attention, appreciation and enthusiasm for the indigenous—of all the cultures she’d needed to embrace with presence and immediacy before the next relocation—to everything she did. Margaret fostered an engagement with identity and community; and in response, friends and neighbors shared not only their own collecting and referrals to source singers, but their own poems and songs as well (sometimes with notes about how Margaret “inspired” them).

As I told those at the close of a recent evening of music in Marlboro: I found Margaret in her music in a much richer way than I expected, because she was embracing. Visiting her home helped me see that. It is like a tapestry, a quilt, the art women make. Margaret created the home she yearned for by picking up all the things that spoke to her along the way and giving them a place to be: bits of her childhood, things gifted and repaired like her harp, bits from family travels and later her children’s. Everything that found its way there was loved. And she created a home for Vermont folk music—old and new— because Margaret herself and her home were inclusive and welcoming. It’s what we all long for, my generation at least, I know: belonging. And it’s what we can give to each other. And that seems more important than ever to remember today. Margaret put down deep roots; made her family farmstead an enduring home for generations; and filled every life she touched with grace, joy and music.

Margaret’s collection of songs, poems, books and recordings is now housed at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, and her field recordings are all accessible digitally here, with a duplicate of the physical tapes now at the American Folklife Center. The concert she performed for the Library of Congress is available here, although the accompanying interview is only available at the AFC.

Single Again musicClick here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Single Again

May Nichols gave this song to Margaret MacArthur in Guilford, Vermont in October, 1961 and said she had it from her husband’s mother, Nellie Nichols. Although a few Southern folksong collections have different versions of a related song (most with drunken husbands), none contain these final two stanzas. Thanks to Bob Coltman, I’ve learned that Mrs. Nichols’ Single Girl is most like “I Wish I Were Single Again” - a song popular in the late 1800s and printed in a Wehman’s Songster. Margaret’s recording of May appears to be its only collection in the folk tradition. Now both Margaret and her granddaughter, Robin, have recorded Single Girl, or Single Again as they title it, for their own CDs, although this song remains a little-known treasure.

At 16, Nora Rodes is an aspiring ethnomusicologist, developing a specialization in women folk collectors. Nora began learning ballads when she was ten and began visiting the American Folklife Center the next year. In June 2018, following a year-long project, Nora presented on Helen Hartness Flanders at a University of Sussex symposium on Women in the Folk. Last year she completed a paper on the AFC’s Eloise Hubbard Linscott Collection. With the generous support of the Vermont Folklife Center’s 2019 Flanders Award for Traditional Vermont Music, she was also able to visit the VFC and AFC MacArthur holdings and come to know Margaret MacArthur through her words and music. Thanks to Megan MacArthur, that project culminated in an October house concert at the MacArthur homestead.

Nora combines her love of folk scholarship with her love of folk music by studying voice, ballads, and clawhammer banjo, and participating in programs and festivals from North Carolina to Montreal. She hopes to continue discovering and giving voice to the traditional music that arises from and sustains community.

Caroline PatonCaroline Paton. Undated photo courtesy of the Paton Family.

Remembering Caroline (Swenson) Paton
August 31, 1933 – March 18, 2019

by Kathy Westra

Folk music lost a beloved voice—and I and a host of others lost a loved and loving personal friend—when Caroline Paton died on March 18, 2019.

Caroline’s passing was not unexpected, but it was a blow to all of us nonetheless. Losing Caroline meant the end of an era that provided a family-owned traditional and tradition-inspired musical soundtrack to all of us in the folk community beginning in 1961 with the founding of Folk-Legacy Records. Caroline, along with Folk-Legacy co-founders Sandy Paton and Lee Haggerty, played a pivotal role in fostering the folk community of which CDSS and so many other folk organizations have been a part for more than 50 joyful years.

I like to think of Caroline as the “golden thread,” weaving—in Pete Seeger’s words—a “magic spell of rainbow design.” She was not the whole design, but she was certainly a bright thread flashing through the years and complementing the other brilliant colors of the Folk-Legacy tapestry.

With her sweet voice, enthusiasm, and love of traditional song, Caroline helped weave a community of song and tradition and friendship. Her gift was the gift of connection: of listeners to the music she loved so much, and of musicians and singers to one another, to the world we all shared at folk festivals, in our local folk music clubs, and to her beloved Folk-Legacy.

Over the years, Caroline became our extended community’s folk-music “mother”—a woman who, over the years, hosted housefuls of friends, cooked meals for multitudes, and added her distinctive harmonies to so many choruses at singing gatherings and on recordings.

She cared deeply about the disenfranchised, contributed her music to support political candidates she believed in, and gave new meaning to the term “political junkie.” Though she was legally blind for much of her adult life, she was a devoted listener to NPR and cable news, avidly following the nuances of of U.S. political drama, chatting for hours (and sharing her strong opinions) with friends on the phone, and occasionally tracking down a new protest song or two to keep the tradition strong.

Most importantly, though, no one was more welcoming than Caroline to new singers in a song circle, or more enthusiastic about a newly discovered singer or song. Her openness and enthusiasm were what drew me to Caroline at the beginning of our friendship. And that’s what kept the bonds of all of her many friendships strong. She made us feel included. The woman who couldn’t see made everyone she touched feel truly seen.

I know that probably everyone reading this has their own story to tell about how deeply Caroline touched them. The golden thread of Caroline’s life shone through so many of our personal stories.

Caroline made everyone she met at festivals, concerts, or on the phone—feel as if they were the only person in the crowded room. As if your news was what she most wanted to hear. She wanted to find out how things were going for you; talk about a version of a ballad she was learning, ask what YOU were learning, and tell you about a new artist that she and Sandy had invited to record. Her special gift was the gift of friendship, of connection, of listening, of enfolding everyone she met in a magic circle of belonging.

Caroline was the golden thread that flashed through so many of our community’s shared stories. We shared those stories in song and reminiscences at her memorial gathering held on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019, just a few miles from Folk-Legacy’s own homestead and recording studio in Sharon, Connecticut.

As in Caroline’s life, the crowd that gathered to mourn Caroline’s passing was not limited to blood relatives, although Caroline’s siblings, sons, grandchildren, great granddaughter, nieces, nephews were there in force to remember their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and aunt. The rest of the crowd, like me, considered Caroline our “family of choice,” coming from near and far to celebrate the myriad ways she touched our lives. We were a motley crew of young and old, amateur and professional, recording artists and living-room singers, concert organizers, radio hosts, loving friends and devoted fans.

While this article is a tribute to Caroline, no tribute to her would be complete without a shout-out to Folk-Legacy, the company she helped create and nurture over its more than five decades and more than 140 recordings.

While Caroline took on the role of “folk mom” and the enthusiastic telephone voice of Folk-Legacy, Sandy was more of an introvert, contributing his quiet genius of recording and programming. It was Sandy who brought his keen ear and a passion for collecting the music of little-known singers, storytellers, and instrumentalists—versions of songs that never would have caught the attention of the commercial marketplace.

Lee Haggerty and his sister Mary were the “angels” who worked behind the scenes to transform Sandy and Caroline’s enthusiasm and vision into reality. It was Lee and Mary who offered the real-world business expertise Folk-Legacy needed and provided the backing to release those first seminal recordings from Beech Mountain, NC.

When I think about Caroline, Sandy, and Lee, I think of all the songs we sing that we wouldn’t know if it weren’t for their life’s work:

  • “Tom Dooley”—The song Frank Proffitt of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, sang into Sandy’s tape recorder to become one of the tracks on the very first Folk-Legacy (vinyl) record before it became a chart-topping Kingston Trio hit.

  • “The Rolling Hills of the Border”—one of many songs from the circle of friends known as “The Golden Ring.” Thanks to Folk-Legacy, everyone knew that song—and all the others on that record and on its two-volume follow-up release, “Five Days Singing.”

  • “Turning Toward the Morning”—the song by Gordon Bok that firmly established him as one of the finest singers and songwriters “in the tradition.”

  • Joe Hickerson’s riveting interpretation of “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down,” learned from a field recording in the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song and shared with a wider audience via Folk-Legacy.

  • Sara Grey and Ed Trickett’s exquisite recording of John Conolly’s beautiful song, “Fiddlers Green.”

  • And then there were Caroline and Sandy’s own recordings of so many traditional and contemporary songs they had learned and collected over the years.

These songs, and the many others we listened to on the Folk-Legacy label, provided an inspiring soundtrack to our lives.

Lee was the first of Folk Legacy’s partners to die, followed by Sandy in July of 2009 and Caroline this year, 2019. But the far-flung community of song, tradition, and friendship that they brought together lives on, as will the recordings they produced.

The Patons’ singing tradition is alive and well in Caroline and Sandy’s sons Rob and David; their grandchildren Eric, Hannah, Linnea, Shannon and Juli. Now great-granddaughter Adaline has joined Caroline and Linnea and Shannon and Juli in the line of talented singing Paton women.

Thanks to granddaughter Linnea and some generous donors, the recordings and history that tell the Folk-Legacy story are destined to go on for generations as part of the Smithsonian Folkways label, which acquired the Folk-Legacy catalog and archives earlier this year. Caroline, Sandy and Lee’s life’s work of more than 140 Folk-Legacy recordings will be available in perpetuity to new generations of singers and scholars eager to explore the sources and interpreters of folk music during the company’s heyday in the 1960s, 70s and beyond.

Thanks to Folk-Legacy—and now, Smithsonian Folkways—the songs we have all come to love and sing together will remain a vibrant part of our nation’s musical history. Though some of the singers are no longer with us in body, we can enjoy their recordings and remember the gifts they brought to our lives. Now, the Folk-Legacy of the Patons is an enduring legacy in Washington, D.C., where all those “records edged in black” will be available to our children and grandchildren in perpetuity.

What a legacy. What a Folk-Legacy. Thank you, Caroline Paton for the life you lived and shared. We will miss you, but your life’s work—and that of Sandy, Lee and your children and grandchildren—will live on in the future generations will sing together. What a wondrous gift!

Kathy Westra is a Folk-Legacy recording artist (with partner George Stephens, CD-146, “Birds of Passage”), singer and folk concert organizer who met Sandy and Caroline Paton as a 17-year-old in 1971 when they visited her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. That meeting launched four decades of friendship and led to a lifetime of involvement in the folksong community. An environmental writer by profession, Kathy served for many years as a volunteer board member and president of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (DC), and currently runs Rockland Folk Arts, an all-volunteer collaborative dedicated to presenting live folk music in Midcoast Maine, where she and George make their home. She has played cello on Folk-Legacy recordings by Scottish singer Archie Fisher and the late Helen Schneyer.

Contact information: email, (207) 593-8068

Next Web Chat
There's Room for YOU at our Summer Programs
Scholarships Still Available for CDSS Summer Programs
Volume 2 of CD+S Online Now Available
CDSS Member Directory Returns
Bidding a Fond Farewell to CDSS
Summer 2019 CDSS News


web chat teamPHOTO: Nicki Perez 

Next Web Chat - July 11th, 8:30 - 9:30pm EDT: Join Us for Building Safe Dance Communities

Please share this news with other dance groups that might be interested.

Don't miss this exciting opportunity to gather valuable resources and hear personal experiences about this important topic! You'll hear from webchat guests across the continent, including time for Q&A.

• Avia Moore (Toronto, ON) will share resources compiled by the CDSS Community Safety Task Force.
• Diane Silver and Robert Zieber (Asheville, NC) are long-time organizers for the Old Farmers Ball dance community.
• Marcia Davis-Cannon (Mountain View, CA) leads workshops on this topic for dance organizers on the West Coast.
• Angela DeCarlis (Boston, MA) is a former Board Member of BIDA (Boston Intergenerational Dance Advocates) and co-founder of the BIDA Safety Team.

To join this Web Chat (by computer or phone), submit the online RSVP form BY JULY 7. All registrants will receive instructions via email about how to participate. Even if you can’t join us on July 11, submit an RSVP to receive announcements about upcoming webchats.
For our last webchat to support Family and Community Dance organizers, we were thrilled to have participants from Alaska to Australia! Here are a couple of participant comments:

"The CDSS webchat organizers chose very fine people to be the presenters. All presenters were well-prepared, and having the chat line was great." 
~ Sally Jenkins, Creswell, OR

"Even after 25 years of organizing a family dance, I learned new ideas that might help my dance, especially marketing more to homeschoolers and Waldorf families. Also, now I'm thinking of changing the name from Family Dance to Family Barn Dance after all these years!" 
~ Paul Rosenberg, Albany, NY 

Click here for recordings of this and our two previous webchats. Questions? Contact Linda Henry:


There's Room for YOU at Our Summer Programs

2018 HSD carl friedmanPhoto by Carl Friedman

There's still time to register for our 2019 summer camp programs... Just go to, where you'll find descriptions, schedules, staff lists, the online registration form, and a link to the camp brochure as a colorful flipbook. Join us for contras and squares, English country dance, morris & longsword, folk song, traditional music, and much more at our week-long adult camps & family camps Pinewoods, Ogontz, Cavell, and Cascade! 


Scholarships Still Available for CDSS Summer Programs

PW dock jeff bary

Please share this announcement with ANY friends who might be interested.

Need financial help to attend one of our life-changing weeks this summer? The following scholarships are being offered first-come, first-serve as long as funds remain. Please apply SOON! 

• Partial scholarships (including work scholarships) are available based on financial need to support callers, musicians, singers, dancers, families, etc. (ages 15 and up). To submit scholarship application, register for your desired week and follow the prompts. Questions? Contact Linda Henry:

• New Generation Initiative (NGI) Scholarships are offered collaboratively by CDSS and Pinewoods Camp. Qualifications: Ages 15-30 with significant financial need coming to a week at Pinewoods for the first time (or returning for a significant reason). Talent and/or leadership initiative is helpful but not required. NGI Scholarships can cover half or the full camper fee. To apply email 


Volume II of the Country Dance + Song Online Journal Now Available! 

1 premiere2013 crop2PHOTO: Anthony Barrand

The second volume of CDSS's scholarly journal Country Dance + Song Online presents articles that explore how Anglo-American dance and song traditions continue to reinvent and refresh themselves in the age of the internet and the cell phone. In this issue, edited by Allison Thompson, you'll find articles about the dolphin heysacred harp singinglongsword dance, and the cake walk



CDSS Member Directory Returns

CDSS 2019 Directory Cover 2

The much-missed CDSS Member Directory is back!

The searchable Online Directory is LIVE on The CDSS Commons and available now to logged in CDSS members. If you are a member, you should have received an email from us with your Commons username and instructions for how to log in. If you did not get that email, please contact and we will help you out. Please DO NOT create a new account as we already have you in our database and that will complicate things.

Once you’ve logged in to the Commons you can view the online directory. 

However, because we realize that many of you would like to have a Directory that you can hold in your hands, we have produced a print edition, which is now available for CDSS members to purchase in The Commons. 

Questions? Contact us at or 413-203-5467 x103.


Bidding a Fond Farewell to CDSS


After spending seven years at CDSS, first as webmaster and most recently as Marketing & Design Manager (and editor of the CDSS News), I am moving on to another position. I'll still be in the nonprofit arts sector but in the classical music world instead of the trad dance and song world. I have enjoyed my years at CDSS, and will miss the incredibly hard-working, friendly staff. Going forward, for inquiries related to the CDSS News, please email I'll see you on the dance floor! - Best, Lynn Nichols


Summer 2019 CDSS News

CDSS News Summer 2019 CoverPhoto: Jeff BaryThe Summer CDSS News was a digital only issue, and a link to a full color flipbook was emailed to our members on June 12th. Now the articles have been posted on the website for everyone. It's a chock-full issue with 9 articles, 3 columns, 2 dances (one contra, one English). Check it out! 

If you're not a CDSS Member but would like to receive the News, join us! 


Join CDSS. Join us on Facebook. Share with a Friend. 
Happy Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime!

CDSS Goes to Washington
Camp Scholarship Money Still Available
Next Web Chat: Family/Community Dance Organizers Unite! April 4th
Shop Talk Update
Lifetime Contribution Award Celebration for Sue Songer
CDSS Member Directory Returns
Spring 2019 CDSS News


lynnartsadvocacydayPHOTO: Some of the Massachusetts contingent at Arts Advocacy Day in DC - l to r - Emily Ruddock, MASSCreative; Lynn Nichols, CDSS; Cathy Edwards, New England Foundation for the Arts; Ann Wicks, New England Foundation for the Arts; and Rob Southworth, The Schoolworks Lab 

CDSS Goes to Washington... to advocate for funding for the participatory arts of dance, music, and song!

As members and friends of the Country Dance and Song Society, we know how integral the arts are to our own personal wellbeing. They are also essential to the social fabric of our society. But traditional dance, music, and song aren't top of mind for our legislators, the folks who control how the federal budget is spent. That’s why Lynn Nichols, CDSS’s Marketing & Design Manager, traveled to Washington, DC, on March 4 - 5 for Arts Advocacy Day. Sponsored by Americans for the Arts, this two-day annual event involves a day of advocacy training followed by a day of visits with legislators at the House and Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill.

At Arts Advocacy Day, Lynn learned that the entire US arts and culture sector (including nonprofit, commercial, and education) is a $764 billion dollar industry (!), which represents 4.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That said, when those who control the purse strings in Washington think of “the arts,” they usually think of the visual arts or performing arts. However the participatory arts should also be part of the conversation, because as dancers, singers, musicians, callers, dance organizers, and nonprofits involved in traditional dance, music, and song, we are keeping a flame alive, preserving and promoting our cultural heritage for generations to come.

In her meetings with legislators, Lynn stressed the health benefits of dance, music, and song, and advocated for continued funding for the NEA funding, which is distributed across the 50 states and is in turn granted to organizations like CDSS (we receive a Mass Cultural Council grant). In the meetings and followup emails, she invited legislators to come out to Western MA for a contra dance.

Lynn will follow up the DC experience by attending Creativity Connects: MassCreative’s Arts Advocacy Day in Boston on March 26th to make the case for the participatory arts to Massachusetts legislators. We are proud to be an active participant in this important work.


Camp Scholarship Money Still Available

2018 am wk pinewoods sarah hirschPhoto by Sarah Hirsch

CDSS offers scholarships to help YOU have a life-changing week at camp this summer! Check out these amazing experiences at our weeks for families and or adults. You can apply for a scholarship as part of the camp registration process. To learn more about scholarships, go to

NOTE: Scholarships are offered on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funds remain.



webchat smDo you know any organizers of dances that include young children and all ages? If so, please share this announcement about our next Web Chat on Thursday, April 4 from 8:30-9:30 pm EDT. Organizers of thriving family and community dances from far and wide will share their stories and advice, including time for Q&A.
To join the Web Chat (by computer of phone), go to to submit an online RSVP form by March 28. Several days prior to the Web Chat we’ll send instructions via email about how to join the call on April 4th. Even if you can’t join us on this date, send an RSVP to receive announcements about future Web Chats.
For recordings of previous Web Chats, check out this LINK to hear tried-and-true stories about Boosting Attendance, Creating a Thriving Open Band, and Increasing Youth Involvement. Questions? Contact Linda Henry:
Here are a couple of “take-aways” from previous Web Chat participants:
From the Increasing Youth Involvement Web Chat: “I'm going to see if I can invite college professors and high school teachers to our dances and perhaps they will tell their students about the dances.” Catie Condran Geist, Palm Bay, Florida
“The Creating a Thriving Open Band Web Chat reinforced what I really already knew: We need to have a spearheading person to start it and keep it going. I am more inspired to try and form an open band here now.” – Linda Nieman, Phoenix, Arizona


Shop Talk Update: Our E-News for Dance, Music, and Song Organizers!

ShopTalkBanner4 sm

Last August, we launched a new quarterly e-blast for organizers. There have been three issues so far – all rich in new resources, listings of upcoming learning opportunities, and more. We encourage you to sign up for Shop Talk as it’s a great way to keep up-to-date on what CDSS is doing for local organizers throughout North America.

Sign up:

View past issues:

Highlights from the first three issues include….

Our new resource on facilitating organizer discussions:

Our new collection of inspiring print promotional material:

An introduction to our new organizers resource portal:


Lifetime Contribution Award Celebration for Sue Songer

sue songer sm

Folks from all over the country are coming to Portland, OR, in late March to celebrate and honor 2018 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award recipient Sue Songer’s contributions to the dance and music community across the nation. Your presence is requested to help make this a celebration of the ages, worthy of songs, poems and stories told through the generations ‘till the end of time.

The event will be held from 4 - 11 pm March 30th, at the Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy in Portland, OR. Aside from the presentation of the Lifetime Contribution Award, there will be a potluck and tons of space for jamming and singing throughout the evening. An open band will be led and managed by Betsy Branch ( and tunes will be selected from the Portland Collection volumes. Please contact Betsy if you’d like to participate. Open calling will be managed by Erik Weberg (, so contact him if you’d like to call a dance and what dance/type of dance you have in mind. Please contact Betsy and/or Erik by March 15th about playing/calling so that plans and programs can be created. Sound engineering will be provided by John Oorthuys. Admission is free, but donations will be gladly accepted to offset costs of the event. For answers to questions (or to let them know you’re coming), write to: Betsy (, Erik (erik@erikweberg. com) or Marfa (


CDSS Member Directory Returns

CDSS 2019 Directory Cover 2

The much-missed CDSS Member Directory is back!

The searchable Online Directory is LIVE on The CDSS Commons and available now to logged in CDSS members. If you are a member, you should have received an email from us with your Commons username and instructions for how to log in. If you did not get that email, please contact and we will help you out. Please DO NOT create a new account as we already have you in our database and that will complicate things.

Once you’ve logged in to the Commons you can view the online directory. 

We realize, however, that some of you want to have a directory you can hold in your hands,  so we are currently preparing a print edition, which will be available for sale to members beginning in early March. We will send a link to all CDSS members with instructions for how to purchase. 

Questions? Contact us at or 413-203-5467 x103.



Spring 2019 CDSS News

CDSS News Spring 2019 CoverPhoto: Nikki HerbstThe Spring issue of the CDSS News has been mailed and articles and features are available on the website. It's a packed issue with ten articles, four columns, two dances (one contra, one English), and eleven pages of event ads.

All in all, it's a very interesting issue, and we're anxious to get your feedback. Send feedback to

Would you like a paper copy of the News? Join us as a Member!


Join CDSS. Join us on Facebook. Share with a Friend. Happy Spring to All!

Harmony Made Sweeter By You
Next CDSS Web Chat January 16th
CDSS Online Member Directory Returns
Community Outreach Grants Deadline is February 1st
Give to the CDSS Annual Appeal
Introducing the CDSS Commons
Winter 2018-2019 CDSS News


closingoftheyear blue

Harmony Made Sweeter By You

2018 was an exciting year at CDSS - we made headway on our big technology project, launched a new strategic plan, and offered up some new benefits for our Members and Affiliates. Read Katy German's letter about what we accomplished and preview what's in store for 2019!

Next Web Chat Wednesday, January 16th

webchat smWe have been thrilled that participants from over twenty states and two provinces have joined each of our first two web chats! If your community is interested in Increasing Youth Involvement at your dances, please encourage your organizers to join our next web chat on Wednesday, January 16 from 8:30-9:30pm EST. Several organizers from far and wide will share successes from their communities on this topic, and we’ll include time for Q&A. 
To join the web chat (by computer or phone), use this link to submit an online RSVP form by WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9th: We will send instructions via email on Friday, January 11th about how to join the call on the 16th. Please fill out the form even if you can’t join us but want to hear about future webchats. 
Recordings of the first two CDSS web chats are available on our website. To hear groups from coast to coast sharing their experiences with Boosting Attendance and Creating a Thriving Open Band, check out: /resources/howto/organizers-resources#cdss-web-chats.Please share these links with any organizers you know who might benefit from this valuable resource.


Give to the CDSS Appeal

form the ocean 4 robin nicolePhoto by Robin Nicole Towle

We believe that 
singing, dancing, and 
making music together:

enriches our lives

builds community
speaks to the needs of the present

CDSS is uniquely positioned to connect and support people who are passionate about these traditions. Your year-end gift allows us to provide crucial resources and services where they are needed most. Donate to CDSS today and be a part of supporting and energizing the folks who make it happen in communities across North America.


CDSS Online Member Directory Returns

member directoryIn January, we’re bringing back this sorely missed benefit in a new format. As a CDSS member, you will have access and will be able to search for and connect with other members in your local community and beyond. Not a member? Join/renew now!


Community Outreach Grants Deadline is February 1st

outreach grants mapFunding from CDSS is available to help YOU create an event or project to support your music, dance, or song community. To apply for our upcoming 02/01 deadline, visit For descriptions of previous grant offerings, go to Contact Linda Henry at for more info. 


Introducing the CDSS Commons

commonsWe are creating a digital community space, built on the Salesforce Community Cloud platform, which will integrate with Salesforce record data to allow logged in users secure access to information about yourselves and your interactions with CDSS. With its own unique look and feel, the CDSS Commons is intended as a companion to our website ( and not a replacement for the majority of our online resources, such as the Organizers’ Portal and the books and music Store. Read more about The Commons.


Winter 2018-2019 CDSS News

CDSS News Winter 18 19 Cover fullPhoto: Judy Keeling

The Winter CDSS News is in the mail and articles and features are available on the website. You'll find loads of useful information, plus two dances (a contra dance and an English dance) and a raft of ads for upcoming events. We've also included a round up of feedback about our Fall digital only issue in the Letters section. Check it out on the News page.  

We'd really like to hear what you think about this issue. Send feedback to




Would you like a paper copy of the News? Join us as a Member!

Join CDSS. Join us on Facebook. Share with a Friend. Happy Holidays to All!

Introducing The Portal
New CDSS Web Chat Series
2019 Lifetime Contributor
Community Outreach Grants Deadline is October 1st
2017 Annual Report is Now Online
21st Annual Pourparler
Fall 2018 CDSS News


sept 18 eblast cover

Introducing "The Portal": CDSS Website Section Brings Together Diverse Organizer Resources

This summer we launched the new Organizers Resource Portal (aka “The Portal”), a section of the CDSS website that gathers a wide range of information in one place to help local organizers easily find information for planning and decision making. Currently The Portal houses CDSS-created resources as well as some key resources from other organizations and events. Updating it will be an ongoing project, and we’ll be reaching out to YOU for help.

You can find The Portal here, and you can contribute your own resources by submitting this form.


CDSS New Web Chat Series

webchat smWe have now successfully hosted two Web Chats and are thrilled with the connections they are creating! Over 110 participants have joined in from as far as Alaska, Florida, and Germany. Recordings for both Web Chats are now posted on our website: #1 Boosting Attendance and #2 Creating a Thriving Open Band. Check out this link. We'll be hosting our next chat in mid-January with a focus on Increasing Youth Involvement. Stay tuned for more details! Questions? Email Linda Henry at



2019 Lifetime Contributor

sue songer sm

Country Dance and Song Society is pleased to announce that Sue Songer of Portland, OR, is the 2019 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. It’s hard to imagine the Portland dance and music scene without Sue. She has been integral in the scene since the 1980’s — as a musician, as the leader of the Portland Megaband, as a leader on planning and production committees, and as the walking talking tune encyclopedia we all depend on. When she began learning fiddle tunes in the 80’s, she started to transcribe the tunes she was hearing around Portland.  This eventually birthed the worldwide selling Portland Collection series, including 3 tune books and 4 CDs to date. Sue plays and teaches in many corners of the U.S. She will be honored on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at a celebration in Portland which will feature music jams, a potluck, an award ceremony and an open band/caller contra dance. To read more about the Lifetime Contribution Award, click here


Community Outreach Grants Deadline is October 1st

harmony 2015 singers carl friedman smPhoto: Carl FriedmanFunding from CDSS is available to help YOU create an event or project to support your music, dance, or song community. To apply for our upcoming 10/1 deadline, visit For descriptions of previous grant offerings, go to Contact Linda Henry at for more info. Next deadlines are February 1st, and June 1st. 

2017 Annual Report is Now Online

CDSS 2017 Annual Report Web Cov sm
The 2017 CDSS Annual Report is now available. You can read the report online as an attractive flipbook, or download a PDF. On the page, you’ll also find links to the 2017 Donor List, additional financial details, and websites with further information.


21st Annual Pourparler

pourparlerDo you teach folk or traditional dance, music or song in schools or communities? Come share with others who do this vital work for an extended weekend of dancing, singing, playing music, sharing ideas and networking at Pourparler San Antonio November 1-4, 2018. Scholarships are available for two deserving CDSS members to attend. For information, visit For more information, visit pourparler or email


Fall2018 CDSS News

CDSS News Fall 2018 CoverPhoto: Mitch Diamond

The Fall CDSS News was an entirely digital issue, an experiment that we're conducted for this one issue of the year online (in December we go back to a print edition). A link to an online flipbook was sent to CDSS members and Group Affiliates earlier this month, and now some content is online for all. Peruse the PDFs for timely information and resources for dancers, singers, callers, and organizers, including five dances — enjoy!

We'd really like to hear what you think about this issue. Send feedback to




Would you like a paper copy of the News? Join us as a Member!

Join CDSS. Join us on Facebook. Share with a Friend. Happy Autumn to All!

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