Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM)

History of JAM
Realizing the need to preserve a vital aspect of mountain culture as well as the need for positive activities to underserved youth, Helen White, then a guidance counselor at Sparta Elementary School, founded the first JAM program in Alleghany County, NC in the spring of 2000 with help from other local musicians and educators. Interest in the program spread rapidly and in 2007, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation provided funding to allow the development of a regional infrastructure.

Currently in over 40 locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, JAM affiliates are providing access to the joy of music to thousands of youth while instilling renewed interest and pride in their heritage.

Our Mission and Beliefs:
We envision a world in which all children have the opportunity to experience community through the joy of participating in traditional mountain music together.

Our mission is to provide communities the tools and support they need to teach children to play and dance to traditional old time and bluegrass music.

We believe that children who are actively engaged in traditional mountain music are more connected and better prepared to strengthen their communities for future generations.

The HendersonJAM is an after-school program for children in grades 4 – 8  that introduces music through small group instruction on instruments common to the Appalachian region, such as fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass.

In JAM, instrument instruction is augmented by string band classes and group enrichment lessons, which introduce children to additional Appalachian culture and history. The JAM program provides children with opportunities to not only learn traditional music, but to also perform in small and large groups. Field trips, visiting artists and an introduction to the rich history of music unique to each local community further supplement program offerings.  JAM also encourages student engagement across programs with regional performance and learning activities throughout the year.

The Eric Lorup Scholarship Fund  

The Eric Lorup Scholarship fund was established in 2017 by Karen and Ed Fouts in honor of Karen’s brother Eric. Eric was a Vietnam Veteran and taught himself slide guitar in order to cope with his PTSD. Eric embraced music therefore Karen and Ed wanted to help other young musicians follow their passion. Through their kind generosity we are able to support 6 hardworking students by offering music lessons during their second semester free of charge.

The Henderson is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Appalachian arts and crafts and will honor JAM’s mission by establishing this invaluable resource for the youth of Smyth County. The HendersonJAM will provide a centrally located, safe, positive, accessible learning environment for Smyth County students.

To find out more about JAM and our region, please visit jamkids.org.

The HendersonJAM Instructors

Michael Brewer – Banjo

Steve Kilby – Guitar and Bass

Joy Patton – Fiddle

Austin Tate – Mandolin and String Band

Cassy Untiedt – Guitar