Bullet Backstory – Sarah Morgan

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This is a new series we’ve started here on the WDVX blog. It shares five bullet point facts to provide some backstory about an artist in his or her own words. For this edition of “Bullet Backstory” we sat down with mountain dulcimer champion Sarah Morgan to share a bit more about her influences and insight about music. Sarah Morgan will be playing on the Blue Plate Special June 10th, so be sure to tune in online or on the radio for what’s sure to be a great show!

Morgan started her musical journey at 7 years old and has fallen in love with traditional and folk music through the years. A native of East Tennessee, she has incorporated the rich musical heritage of the area into her music. At 18, Sarah placed 1st at the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships held in Winfield, KS. A year later she went on to become a finalist in the 2013 International Acoustic Music Awards. She has also won other titles, including
Mid-Eastern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion, Kentucky State Mountain Dulcimer Champion, and Southern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion. She currently studying Traditional Music and Appalachian Studies at Morehead State University.

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We hope you enjoy her bullet backstory!

  • Biggest musical influences – As a young teen, I became entranced with the folk musicians of the early folk revival of the 60’s and 70’s. I was drawn to the music of Ian and Sylvia, Judy Collins, and Pete Seeger. The music of that era is so real and honest and urgent.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career? – I always knew I wanted a career in traditional music. After high school, I didn’t know where or even if I wanted to go to college, so I took a gap year to teach and perform. After a year of traveling, I felt confident that pursuing a career in traditional music was what I was meant to do. Currently, I am studying Traditional Music, Appalachian Studies, and Arts Entrepreneurship at Morehead State University.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft? – In our fame-obsessed culture, it seems that we define “successful musician” as someone who sells hundreds of thousands of albums and can fill a stadium with screaming fans. But being a success at music doesn’t have to fit that mold. For me, being a successful musician means striving to the absolute best dulcimer player I can be, performing and recording music that caters to my niche market, and teaching others how to play this amazing little instrument. I’m not trying to appeal to everyone and that’s okay. I would encourage young musicians to pursue the instrument and genre of music they love and not to worry about whether or not they will be “successful” as our culture defines it. All those things will fall into place if work hard at being the best you can be at your craft. You’ll be hard to ignore if you are really, really good.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville? – Anything at the Laurel Theater! I remember my parents taking me to see the Hominy Mamas and ballad singer Elizabeth Laprelle as a young kid. Now, I love singing shape notes with the Epworth Singers once a month.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why? – Pete Seeger. I learned so much from his recordings and I love how he approached folk music. While he always respected the integrity of these old songs, wrote new verses to reflect current issues and lent a new feel to seemingly antiquated songs.

Thanks Sarah!