Photo by Kim Kobersmith
Photo by Kim Kobersmith
Photo by Erica Chambers


The ideas began to flow when musicians Belle Jackson, Donna Lamb and Sam Gleaves got together and said, "There ought to be a camp where folks can come and learn old time music in Berea." With the support of the incredible team at Berea Tourism and the momentum of the Festival of Learnshops, the dream became a reality. The first year of the Singing Bird Music School brought even more music to historic Berea, the folk arts and crafts capital of Kentucky.  Together we are building an Appalachian community music gathering where all folks (age 10 and up) can enjoy music together and learn from each other. The school's name and philosophy comes from the refrain of an old Irish traditional song, "there's none of them can sing so sweet, my singing bird as you."  The Singing Bird Music School is presented by the Berea Festival of Learnshops, a Berea Tourism event that invites folks to grow their creative side and join outstanding professional artists and master craftspeople to experience practically any art form you can imagine. 

The first annual Singing Bird Music School was a resounding success!  Thanks to Kim Kobersmith for writing this brilliant article for the Richmond Register:

Join us for the second annual Singing Bird Music School July 31 - August 2, 2019!  More details will be announced soon.


All musicians (age 10 and older) are welcome to participate. Beginning musicians are especially welcome. No previous experience playing a stringed instrument is required. Registration for the school is $144 per person (this includes four hours of instruction each day, lunch each day and more opportunities for jamming and singing together). A limited number of scholarships (for musicians age 18 and under) and work study positions (for musicians age 18 and up) will be available.  Educators participating in the school will receive certificates of participation for professional learning credit.  Morning singing will be held at the Acton Folk Center, 212 West Jefferson Street, Berea, KY 40403.  Most of the class locations will be based around the Old Town Berea area, on or within walking distance of North Broadway street. If you have general questions about the school or if you are interested in applying for a scholarship or work study position, please email

This event is supported in part by the Outreach Fund of the Country Dance and Song Society. To learn more, visit the CDSS website: 



Lewis Lamb comes from Paint Lick in Garrard County, Kentucky.  Lewis is a farmer who grew up in a family with a rich tradition of old time music.  He is known as one of Kentucky’s finest old time fiddlers.  Lewis has played in numerous regional string bands and when band members gathered to practice at his house, his daughter Donna took an interest in the music. After a few months of playing guitar, Donna performed for the first time with Lewis at the Mountain Folk Festival at Berea College in 1968. Since then, Lewis and Donna have traveled many times overseas performing with the Berea College Country Dancers to England, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Scotland, Denmark, Canada and other countries. Lewis and Donna have performed at the 1982 World’s Fair, at Berea’s outdoor drama Wilderness Road, and at many festivals and dances throughout the region. Lewis also composes fine fiddle tunes and the Lambs have made many recordings, including their newest CD "A Family Tradition" and the influential "Dances from Appalachia" LPs produced by Berea College.  Lewis and Donna were the 2006-2007 winners of the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts. They also host an open jam session, Jammin’ on the Porch, on Thursday nights in Berea.

Hear a recording of Lewis Lamb fiddling "Denver Belle" via this Berea College Special Collections & Archives link.

Lovester Wilkinson is a lifelong resident of Lincoln County, Kentucky, who will present about the use of quilts in the Underground Railroad and talk about her own work as a quilter and her life growing up in Appalachia. Lovester grew up in Booneyville, Kentucky and she currently resides in Stanford. A masterful storyteller, Lovesterhas written a book about her community and her memories of growing up there. Spirituals and church songs are a part of Lovester’s identity and she will sing as part of her program. Lovester and members of her family have presented their programs at a number of places, including the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College. 

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Copyright Singing Bird Music School 2018