Virginia Folklife Program

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Master & Apprentice Program


Master Artist: Audrey Hash Ham
Apprentice: Carl Powers
County: Grayson
Folkway: Fiddle Making

Audrey Hash Ham is the daughter of the late Albert Hash, the well-known old-time fiddler and fiddle-maker who in the 1970′s had an enormous influence on young people in the region as a teacher of traditional music and craft. Audrey began learning to make instruments at her father’s side when she was seven years old, beginning with dulcimers and working her way up to fiddles. Like her father, she has come to be revered as one of the finest fiddle makers of her generation. Audrey, following the footsteps of her father, has been active in reinforcing tradition in the communities around Grayson County. While she has trained many young students in the art of fiddle making, she considers Carl Powers, who has never received formal training in wood-working, to be perhaps her most gifted, and most promising student. This award will allow Audrey and Carl to continue their apprenticeship, and to help keep the essential legacy of Albert Hash alive well into the next century.

Master Artist: Kinney Rorrer
Apprentice: Jeremy Stephens
County: Pittsylvania
Folkway: “Charlie Poole Style” Banjo Playing

Kinney Rorrer is considered the premiere scholar and performer of Charlie Poole Style banjo in Virginia, and perhaps in the entire country. Kinney teaches courses at Danville Community College in music and history, hosts a critically acclaimed old time music radio program, and has lectured on topics as broad as tobacco farming to the history of country music. Kinney grew up deeply immersed in the old time music tradition, and is a descendent of Charlie Poole, whose style he plans to teach his already gifted apprentice Jeremy Stephens. It is an honor to involve Kinney in the apprenticeship program, and to have the Charlie Poole “three finger” banjo style represented.

Master Artist: Grayson Chesser
Apprentice: Robie Marsh Jr.
County: Accomack
Folkway: Decoy Carving

The Eastern Shore of Virginia has traditionally been home to some of the world’s finest carvers of hunting decoys, and one of the art form’s greatest living legends, Grayson Chesser, will participate in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. This apprenticeship was initiated by Grayson’s young apprentice, Robie Marsh, who works at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. Robie has sent samples of his carving work, which shows quite a bit of promise, and his interest and commitment to learning the nuances of this tradition can not be questioned.

Master Artist: The Paschall Brothers
Apprentice: Tarrence Paschall Jr. and others
County: Chesapeake
Folkway: A Capella Gospel Quartet Singing

The Paschall Brothers stand firmly in the great tradition of religious a capella groups in Tidewater Virginia. The Paschall Brothers were formed in 1981 by Reverend Frank Paschall, Sr., with his five sons Frank Jr., Tarrence, Wendell, Dwight, and William. Reverend Frank Paschall Sr. passed away in 1999, but his sons have carried on his legacy, and remain as one of the few remaining performers of this once flourishing art form. The Paschalls will use this apprenticeship opportunity to pass their unique harmonic stylings on to five young members of their church, including Frank Sr.’s grandson, Tarrence Paschall Jr. Virginia Folklife Recordings produced The Paschall Brothers first album Songs For Our Father in 2003.

Master Artist: Flory Jagoda
Apprentice: Susan Gaeta
County: Fairfax
Folkway: Ladino Ballad Singing

Flory Jagoda is a 2002 recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, a remarkable honor bestowed upon only four other Virginians in the past. Flory, her family’s lone holocaust survivor, is known as “the keeper of the flame” of the once rich Saphardic Jewish song tradition. Flory sings the songs she learned from her nona (grandmother) as a child in pre-WWII Sarajevo – songs which have been passed down in her family since they fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. All of her ballads are sung in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language dating back centuries. Flory’s apprentice, Susan Gaeta, is an accomplished musician in her own right and demonstrates a deep intellectual and personal interest in carrying on this precious traditional art form.

Master Artist: William Rogers
Apprentice: Amin Ghaderi
County: Montgomery
Folkway: Blacksmithing

William Rogers uses a coal-fired forge, an anvil, and some time-tested handtools to perpetuate the centuries-old skill of blacksmithing. Exposed to the craft at an early age, William recalls times growing up on a farm when his grandfather used traditional metal-smithing tools and techniques. William has since made his living educating others about the craft he loves. He has taught extensively in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and he even spent a semester instructing in Panama. When touring the state as a part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Series, William captivated audiences with his demonstrations. Being selected for this award provides William the opportunity to teach in the master-apprentice style, which he sees as ideal. Amin Ghaderi, anxious to improve his already impressive metalworking skills, will serve as William’s apprentice.

Master Artist: John Rinehart
Apprentice: Don Fitzgerald
County: Franklin
Folkway: Hot Rod Car Making

Ever since the automobile has been mass produced by the assembly lines of Detroit, they have been revised, altered, elaborated, and reconstructed in small garages and car shops throughout America. The historic practice of creating visually dynamic “hot rods” is particularly rich in southwest Virginia, where many automobiles were “suped-up” as part of the bootlegging tradition, and where car clubs have, and continue to thrive as an important social network. Since 1957, John Rinehart has learned this tradition in the workshops of the masters, and his apprenticing of accomplished car customizor Don Fitzgerald represents a critical link in this traditional chain.

Master Artist: C. Marshall Cofer
Apprentice: Rebecca Austin
County: Bedford
Folkway: Draft Horsing

Long before the majority of agricultural life became mechanized, farmers relied on horses to carry out much of their daily tasks and to serve as the central means to transport their goods to the marketplace. While the traditional skill of handling draft horses is largely lost on today’s generation, it remains alive in the work of Marshall Cofer, who learned this craft as a child growing up on a farm in Bedford County. Mr. Cofer has demonstrated his skills to many young people, most recently at the farm museum at the Blue Ridge Institute in Ferrum, where he met his eager young apprentice, Rebecca Austin. Rebecca plans to use her apprenticeship with Mr. Cofer to not only continue this tradition herself, but to assist Mr. Cofer in teaching it to others.