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Saturday March 25th

Sounds of the South Award celebrates regional music

Fund promotes study of Southern culture

Last year, Reed Turchi became the founder and president of a local record company.

And this year, Turchi is helping others do more of the same.

Turchi, a junior Southern studies major, is one of eight donors who helped to develop the Center for the Study of the American South’s new Sounds of the South Award.

The $1,000 award, to be given to an undergraduate interested in recording and working with Southern musicians during the summer, will be used to help with costs associated with the project.

The deadline to apply for the award was last Monday. The winner has yet to be announced.

The award draws together many of the resources which contributed to Turchi’s success with his own record label, Devil Down Records.

“The Sounds of the South Award stemmed from my desire to create an award that combined the various resources, opportunities and individuals that I’ve benefited from as an undergraduate,” Turchi said.

Devil Down Records has helped to fund much of the award.

“To me it’s the ideal award,” Turchi said. “I’ve managed to get some of the same results in a more roundabout way, but this award puts together all the pieces together that I’ve found.”

But more than providing money, the record label showcases the success of an undergraduate.

Turchi founded Devil Down Records in 2010 in order to release recordings from northern Mississippi found in the Southern Folklife Collection.

“Devil Down is just a way to put out all this incredible music, and to expose something so local to a worldwide audience,” Turchi said.

“Devil Down isn’t going to bring you the next Rolling Stones or Beatles, but in a time where everyone wants something that seems homegrown, local and familiar, Devil Down is a great way to get turned on to some truly timeless — and very real — music.”

James Finnegan, also a junior American Studies major, has applied for the award in hopes of making recordings at the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va.

“The camp grounds at the festival are sites of spontaneous jamming,” Finnegan said. “I’m not just interested in the playing of songs but in the transmission of music between people which has so much importance to Southern music.”

The award will benefit students beyond the winning applicant.

Recordings made by the recipient will be placed in a “Sounds of the South” archive as a part of the Southern Folklife Collection at Wilson Library and made available for study.

“The collection may be used by scholars researching a certain region or just by people interested in regional music,” said Lisa Beavers, events and communications manager at the Center for the Study of the American South.

“In 50 years, the collection will be a snapshot of a time period used for scholars of the future.”

Though the award celebrates music specifically, Beavers said that it’s really a commendation of Southern life.

“There are so many things that define Southern culture, and music is really one of them,” Beavers said. “Music is always evolving and changing and this award helps celebrate that.”

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