July 16, 2004 American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress Grants First Henry Reed Award
Appalachian Ballad Singer Is the Recipient
Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress has announced that the first recipient of an award of $500 from the Henry Reed Fund for Folk Artists is Appalachian ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle, a 16-year-old tradition-bearer.
The Henry Reed Fund was established to benefit folk artists and to honor master Appalachian fiddler Henry Reed. It was conceived by the former head of the Archive of Folk Song and founding director of the AFC, Alan Jabbour, upon his retirement in 1999. Reed and Jabbour met in Virginia in the late 1960s while working together to document Reed's expansive repertoire. The legendary Reed was also Jabbour's mentor and taught him many tunes on the fiddle before he died in 1968 at the age of 84.
LaPrelle hails from Rural Retreat, Va. She has been singing at fiddlers' conventions and other traditional musical gatherings since 1999. That year, at age 11, she was awarded second place in the Junior Folk Song competition at the Mount Airy (Va.) Fiddlers' Convention. She earned the same honor for the next two years. In 2002 amd 2003, she took the first place award in that competition. In 2003 she was also awarded third place in the Adult Folk Song Competition and second place in the Youth Competition at the Elk Creek (Va.) Fiddlers' Convention.
LaPrelle plans to use the award to help finance her travels to music gatherings this summer. This will allow her not only to perform and compete, but also to be surrounded by older singers from whom she can learn traditional songs, style and aesthetics.
Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, said of LaPrelle: "Elizabeth attends to these time-honored ballads with a level of comfort and conviction rarely found these days, let alone by someone of such a young age. There is a real kind of chilling effect of her singing-a sense that while she may not have 'lived' it, she certainly feels it."
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife." The center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American Folk Music. The center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folklore and folklife from America and around the world.