By Bethany Miller
This story is part of a five-part series featuring this week's featured guests of Ohio University Zanesville Campus' fifth annual national conference, Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments.
Jazz, rock and pop. No matter the genre, American music has origins in Appalachia. To musician Hank Arbaugh, this is one reason why traditional folk music is valuable to society's culture.
A master of eight stringed instruments, Arbaugh will perform at Ohio University Zanesville's fifth annual Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments. The national conference, occurring from Oct. 23 through Oct. 25, will give attendees the opportunity to experience the music deeply rooted in Appalachian culture, Arbaugh says.
"Many songs from Appalachia tell heartfelt stories or are laments or lyrics that show real human emotion," Arbaugh says. "This is why so many people turn to folk music."
More specific to the goals of the conference, both women and men will learn about their heritage and begin to understand what needs to change in our society through looking at how women are portrayed in his songs, Arbaugh says.
Even though the conference celebrates female achievement and legacy, male involvement is important, Arbaugh says. American society holds prejudices against Appalachian culture. The conference is one way to break down this chauvinism, not just about women but also men.
"When the stereotypes are removed from women, they will be removed from men too," Arbaugh says.
Arbaugh, who got his start in music with his fraternity at Ohio University, will perform songs that describe women in historical traditional roles and also empowering positions. Other songs will not identify the gender but will express love and peace. His performance on Thursday, Oct. 23, is one event at the conference open to the public.
With a master's degree in English and folk studies, Arbaugh has taught high school and college courses and specializes in old Anglo-American ballads and Appalachian and Celtic music. He has taken his folk music all over the world and the United States and has performed with legends like Johnny Shines, Buddy Moss and Sparky Rucker. But Arbaugh says his greatest musical accomplishment is seeing his music give hope and encouragement to the ill and less fortunate.
"To know that some of my music has had an altruistic effect on people is so rewarding."
Bethany Miller is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.
The Women of Appalachia: Their Heritage and Accomplishments is still accepting registration, and some events are open the public. For a complete schedule of events or for registration information, visit www.zanesville.ohiou.edu/ce/wac/default.asp