Liza DiSavino

Friday, September 18, 2020

Appalachia in the Bluegrass goes online this year with weekly streamed performances!

Twice a member of the Geraldine R. Dodge Master Teacher Collaborative, Elizabeth DiSavino taught general, vocal, and instrumental music in public and private schools for 29 years. A former student of music education innovator Bennett Reimer, Ms. DiSavino joined the faculty of Berea College as Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education in 2011.  Ms. DiSavino has a long-standing interest in songwriting, and is a winner of the Falcon Ridge New Folk competition and runner-up in the American Songwriting competition. The Women of Appalachia Project recognized her song ,“That Esau Bed,” about the systematic sexual subjugation of women in West Virginia coal towns, in the Spoken Word Category in 2018. Founder and former leader of the New Jersey Songwriter’s Circle, she recorded two solo albums of original music, five albums of original and traditional music with husband and partner A.J. Bodnar, has had her music played on NPR, and may be found on several compilations including Fast Folk: Songs From the Garden State on Smithsonian Folkways. Also a practitioner of traditional, folk, and roots music, Ms. DiSavino has been a faculty member for eighteen years at the summer folk arts school Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD. She and A.J. Bodnar have performed at festivals and other venues across the country. They researched traditional music of the Catskill Mountains and parlayed that into an album, A Home in the Catskills in 2010. This research became the basis of their 2012 Hutchins Library Sound Archives Fellowship project, “Mountain to Mountain,” a comparison of traditional music of the Catskills with that of Southern Appalachia. Professor DiSavino had the honor of working with Loyal Jones and transcribed songs and ballads for his book My Curious and Jocular Heroes. Professor DiSavino received a second Hutchins Library Sound Archives Fellowship to research the life of early ballad collector Katherine Jackson French and her relationship with Berea College. She has completed a book on the subject, tentatively entitled Katherine Jackson French: Kentucky’s Forgotten Ballad Collector, with expected publication in the spring of 2020. Published concurrently will be a commemorative edition of Jackson French’s ballads published through Berea College, and a recording of them sponsored by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women.