Lamont Jack Pearley

Host of the African American Folklorist

Lamont Jack Pearley is an applied folklorist, ethnographer and African American traditional music historian and practitioner enrolled at WKU in the African American and Folk Studies programs. He is an African American Studies Ambassador with the African American Studies Department, hosts a weekly segment on WKU Public Radio called the African American Folklorist, and is the editor of the African American Folklorist Newspaper. He was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as Great Blues Historian and TV/Radio Producer (2017) and Great Blues Artist (2018).

Julie Bowles

Born and raised in McComb, Mississippi, the home of Bo Diddley, Castro Coleman has, like the legends who pre-date him, made a name for himself in the blues and gospel field.

Starting in the church, like many of our most notable Black musicians, Coleman has grown to become an A&R, producer, songwriter and artist at the iconic Malaco Records. 

Imogene Murphy

Legendary bluesman Joe Louis Walker has performed for over 50 years. A product of the great migration that sent him and his family from Mississippi to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, Walker was ordained a bluesman from a young age as he was handed the torch of African American traditional music from his parents. 


Lamont Pearley

Michael Morrow is a man with many titles: he’s Archivist & Curator of Logan Counties African American History, a community scholar, and the director of the SEEK (STRUGGLES FOR EMANCIPATION AND EQUALITY IN KENTUCKY)  Museum in Russellville. However, I’d suggest Mr. Morrow is much more than the earned titles he holds.

He’s also the holder of the scroll of African American individual and family stories that culminates in a history not known by many, making his contributions as the orator of this history and stories extremely significant. 

Courtesy of Michael Jones

Author, historian, and features writer for the African American Folklorist Newspaper Michael L. Jones has made significant contributions to the preservation and awareness-raising of Kentucky history. From journalism to writing his award-winning book Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee, Jones highlights notable African Americans, communities, traditional musics and the like. 

Julie Bowles

When driving south on Chestnut St. in Bowling Green, toward the traffic circle on Western Kentucky University's campus, a beautiful grey home sitting behind a lovely tree stands out.

That structure is the African American Museum.

For some, it may be unassuming, but once you're inside, you're taken on a tour of generations of Black Bowling Green that includes military uniforms worn by African American soldiers, the first Black homecoming queen at Western Kentucky University in 1972, and memorabilia from neighborhoods like Jonesville, Shake Rag, and Delafield.



Lamont Jack Pearley

Maxine Ray is a folklorist who grew up in the historic African American community of Jonesville, which Western Kentucky University replaced during the urban renewal process of the mid-1950s through late 1960s.

Walking through E.A. Diddle Arena and some of the parking lots that supplanted what was once a thriving Black community of professional masons and homeowners, it's possible to feel the urgency transmitted from Mrs. Ray as she spoke about her work and it's inspiration.

Mrs. Ray attended Western Kentucky University to pursue a degree in Sociology many years after her family and neighbors lost their homes. She would soon find out she had a calling to become a folklorist, as she earned her Master’s Degree from the WKU Folk Studies Program.

Lamont Jack Pearley

As a folklorist, I’m constantly searching for notable African American stories in and around Kentucky.

In my more recent research, I decided to look specifically in the Bowling Green area.

To my surprise, I found the name of an American composer and pianist that many people in the Bowling Green area are unfamiliar with: Porter Parrish Grainger. 

Editors note: A previously aired version of this story notes Grainger's last notable work as coming out in 1939. He published his last song in 1943.

Darrow Montgomery

Arnold Shultz is an African American fiddler and guitarist who was instrumental in the development of Bluegrass, along with other country-style music genres.

Born into a musical family, the unrecorded Kentucky legend made an impact on music up and down the Mississippi River, and introduced guitar chords, styles of play, and performances to the likes of Bill Monroe, known as the "Father of Bluegrass", and many others.

The son of a former slave, his family played hillbilly music and were professional touring musicians.

Shultz also broke racial barriers. He played with white musicians, black musicians, and in white establishments, black establishments, and elite homes.

The terms "soul food" and "Southern style food" were not an initial naming convention for the meals eaten in the households I grew up in. We ate what Grandma cooked. What Granddad bought, for Auntie and Momma to prepare.

As time went on, the meals of my family began popping up in stores around our community, then particular spaces across the nation by the name “Soul Food” or “Country Kitchen.”

I remember Country Kitchen specifically, because it was on the route home from church, and on special occasions my family and I would stop there to order meals. The food was good, not as good as my grandma, or mother’s, but nonetheless we enjoyed.

Louisville Folk School Facebook Page

How did an instrument that made its way from Africa, to the Caribbean, then the shores of the American south become a staple of bluegrass music? And how, by the 20th century, did the use of this instrument include a very small amount of African Americans?

Who is Henry Hart, and why is he significant to music? Why is he even significant to Kentucky?

These questions and more are answered in a three series program presented by the Louisville Folk School in partnership with Kentucky Performing Arts, and hosted by Louisvilles’ own writer and historian Michael L. Jones.

Appalachia is known and celebrated for many things. However, one piece of its history seems less known.

That’s where the organization Black In Appalachia comes in. Black In Appalachia works to highlight, document, present and engage the history and contributions of African-Americans in the advancement of the Mountain South and its culture.

Through digital media, community engagement, and a group of dedicated people, Black in Appalachia serves their community through research, local narratives, public engagements and exhibitions. They also produce podcasts and mini documentaries that could be found on their website and YouTube channel.

Lamont Collins Owner and Operator of Roots 101 African American Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

Located at 124th N. 1st St. in Louisville, Kentucky, Roots 101 African American Museum is an incubator for African American history.

Its mission statement is, “To promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievement, contribution, and experiences of African Americans using exhibits, programs, and activities to illustrate African-American history, culture and art,” and that’s what they do.

The brainchild of Lamont Collins, who saw the need and urgency to exhibit the story of Black history, Roots 101 has taken Louisville and the museum world by storm.

Lamont Jack Pearley

Kentucky Bluesman Michael Gough has embarked on and completed an EP titled The EP, and is now ready to share the project and story behind it.

As a founding member of the Kentucky Blues Society and the Russellville Blues Society, Gough has been an essential part of the Kentucky music and Blues scene for many years.

The south-central Kentucky legend met with the African American Folklorist in Franklin, Kentucky, at Thunder Sound Studios to speak about his musical journey, inspirations, and the process of orchestrating The EP.