We are happy to host singer, songwriter, dancer and a KAC Performing Artist, Carla Gover for this week’s guest blog.
My name is Carla Gover, and I have been a professional musician and arts educator in Kentucky for over 20 years now. I live and work here because I love this place and have a passion for preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage. One thing I love about my job is that I get to meet amazing people, travel and see the natural beauty of our state. I never dreamed when I began a career as an artist how many different directions it would take me over time. I have toured internationally, recorded five CDs, helped start a music festival, created music for and performed in a movie, played at festivals, libraries, theaters and elementary schools all over Kentucky, and taught music and dance to countless children and adults.
What constantly amazes me is that when you are following your passions, it takes you in directions and offers opportunities you never could have imagined. For instance, I have always had a passion not just for sharing Appalachian music, but also for learning about other cultures through the arts, and for collaborating with diverse musicians to find connections and common themes. That passion led me to learn Spanish, to travel to Mexico three times, and eventually to get a Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Kentucky. At the beginning of last summer, it also led to a dialogue with the Louisville-based group Appalatin, who create music that blends Latin and Appalachian styles. We discovered a shared vision of creating cultural bridges between Kentucky’s growing Latino population and the traditional culture of the state, all through music, dancing and songs. Our shared vision has led us to perform together, in shows for children and adults, and to begin the process of writing material for a recording project. It is very exciting to work with other artists to create songs, especially as a songwriter who has mainly worked solo.
One of our goals is to show the commonalities and overlap between the two cultures, and there is so much with which to work. Both cultures value the extended family and are very child-centric. Both cultures are historically known for a strong work ethic and a sense of pride. Both cultures have strong traditions around food, music, community and dancing. Both cultures have strands of European and Native American traditions woven throughout. It is exciting to find ways to express those things, in Spanish and English. It is exciting to be able to show Appalachian clogging one moment and Andean flute the next, and then move to an original sing-along that has everyone singing in two languages. Everyone brings something different to the table, and we all feel strongly about creating a more inclusive Kentucky through celebrating our commonalities and sharing our stories.
We plan to continue our collaboration this spring, through performing and writing together, and hopefully doing some recording by this fall! We’re looking forward to playing the Kentucky Stage at Kentucky Crafted: The Market, on March 7, at the Lexington Convention Center, and to being inspired by the amazing talent in our state!