Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM)



Spring 2017 Registration is now open for Junior Appalachian Musicians

Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) is now accepting applications for the spring semester. Students will learn to play and sing traditional Appalachian mountain music, gain confidence, and give back to the community with live performances throughout the year. JAM is open to all Jackson County students grades 3-12, with professional instruction in guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin & autoharp.
Class will meet on Tuesday afternoons in the music room in the north hall of Cullowhee Valley School, from 3:15-4:45. Class dates are January 10 – April 25, 2017 for $95.00. Includes instruction by JAM faculty in small and large groups, “JAMily” meeting and practice time, and special appearances by Jackson County Visiting Artists sharing music, dance, and storytelling.
JAM is sponsored by the Jackson County Arts Council and supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.
The deadline for student registration is December 20, 2016. Contact Mairi Padgett (JAM Parent) to enroll for the Spring Semester: 828-506-8252 or mairi.padgett@gmail.com


The JAM program is supported by the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources; Jackson County Arts Council : Wesley Foundation of Cullowhee; Omicron Epsilon Chapter at WCU of Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity.

The sponsoring agency is Jackson County Arts Council

For more information contact:

Dusk Weaver, JAM Director (984)999-0594, weaverdusk@gmail.com

Or the Jackson County Arts Council 828-507-9820, info@jacksoncountyarts.org


A Brief and Amazing History of JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians)…A Jackson County Arts Council sponsored program.

In the year 2000 (a mere 16 years past) guidance counselor Helen White of Allegheny County, NC founded an afterschool children’s music program at Sparta Elementary School. She named that program Junior Appalachian Musicians, which is often abbreviated to the appropriate term “JAM.”

Ms. White’s JAM concept was to preserve the venerable music, storytelling, and dance traditions of Southern Appalachia by passing them along to today’s youth through traditional instruction methods (that is, “by ear and by example”). Also, the program would be accessible and affordable for all interested children (even providing instruments on loan when needed), and once students became proficient, they would “give back” to the greater community through delightful public performances.

JAM was such an unqualified success that word spread rapidly throughout mountain communities, not only in NC but also in SC, VA, TN, WVA, KY, and elsewhere. As of fall semester 2016, Jackson County JAM was among 42 JAM chapters in 4 Southern Appalachian states, with 2 other states seeking to organize additional chapters this year! And the newest chapter this fall (#42) is none other than Blue Ridge JAM in Cashiers, NC, making Jackson County doubly blessed with two JAM programs.

Our goal at Jackson County JAM has long been to establish a total of 3 JAM locations. The third location would be at the north end of our elongated and mountainous county, perhaps at Smoky Mountain Elementary or at one of the Cherokee Schools, so that any county student could reach his/her JAM location safely and in a timely manner, even during most winter weather.

JAM is something of a miracle that preserves our rich heritage while simultaneously enriching our youth, and it is a considerable blessing to our Jackson County community at large. Here is a hearty “Thank you” to all of the individuals, businesses, and civic organizations that lend support to Jackson County JAM, particularly to our former sponsor of 5-years (Cooperative Extension Service & 4-H) and our current sponsor (Jackson County Arts Council). And no account of Jackson County JAM would be complete without acknowledgment of the late, great Ray Menze, for he was responsible for bringing the JAM program to our county, even as he struggled in the waning years of his life. Thank you, Mr. Menze, for all you did to make Jackson County an even finer place to live.