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Mountain Grrl Experience Brings Appalachian Women Together

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PIKEVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Appalachian Center for the Arts is welcoming folks to a female-fronted “FUNdraiser” to celebrate the creativity and resilience of women in Appalachia. The Mountain Grrl Experience is set to hit for two days on July 22nd and 23rd in downtown Pikeville.

The event, in its second year, will bring arts, vendors, food, and fun to Pikeville as world-class musicians and local and regional talents bring their arts to the space.

“It’s not just a festival or a concert. It’s an entire experience,” said co-organizer Kris Preston, of the all-female bluegrass band, Coaltown Dixie, “It’s the mountain girl experience. I like to think of it as Appalachian women championing Appalachian women.”

The featured keynote speaker on Friday, July 22nd at 7:30, is Kentucky Poet Laureate and the NAACP IMAGE Award winner Crystal Wilkinson, the award-winning author of PerfectBlack, a memoir which explores rural black girlhood and growing up in southern Appalachia. Wilkinson is currently an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Kentucky where she also works with the UK Appalachian Center and the Gaines Center for the Humanities.

Playwright, award winner, and Executive Director of All Here Together Productions, Mitzi Sinnott, is featured in a unique workshop on Friday titled, “What’s Your SHEstory–Telling your personal story, getting unstuck and moving forward.” Sinnott is the creator of “SNAPSHOT: A True Story of Love Interrupted by Invasion,” an award-winning, one-woman play written and performed by Sinnott which was featured on KET and is now airing on PBS stations across America.

Friday’s panel discussion features top female leadership in Appalachia including Kentucky State Representative Angie Hatton, former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Janet Stumbo, Whitesburg’s first female Mayor Tiffany Craft and community advocate/philanthropist Jean Rosenberg.

The event will host a wide variety of musical acts and performances. Female fronted bands will take over three stages in downtown Pikeville. Luna and the Mountain Jets, Cecilia Wright and Second Rodeo, Coaltown Dixie and Bek and the Starlight Revue are among the acts slated to play. The event will also feature Songwriters Rounds and performances from women of all ages and genres.

Abby the Spoon Lady (Abby Roach) is featured on stage Saturday and will perform and host a workshop on how to play the spoons. “Watching her perform was like watching a dancer. She she’s enchanting. It’s like she is telling a story, although she never spoke, ”said one fan. Abby learned to play the spoons while traveling the country after fleeing domestic abuse.

Kentucky songstress, dancer and educator Carla Gover will be on stage with an Appalachian flatfoot/clogging dance workshop on Saturday. Gover grew up in Whitesburg in a family that has lived eight generations in east Kentucky. She is an award-winning singer/songwriter and has performed at venues including The Kennedy Center. Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls her “one of the 30 essential artists of the next generation.” She has recorded projects and performed with legends including Jean Ritchie, fiddler Stuart Duncan, and mandolin player Mike Compton.

The Mountain Grrl Experience will also feature art classes for young and old, poetry, dulcimer and songwriting workshops, an art gallery display, dance performances, artisan crafters and food vendors from around the region. On Saturday, all can join Yoga on the Green, record their oral histories in the Storytelling booth or join in a traditional square-dance called by Hindman Settlement School Folk Arts Director, Sarah Kate Morgan (featuring music by Sunrise Ridge).

Robin Irwin, Executive Director for the Appalachian Center for the Arts, knew that, alongside showcasing female artists and giving them a place to come together as a community and shine, the event would have to serve a greater purpose. “I was so troubled when I learned that intimate partner violence had risen precipitously during the pandemic, I just felt the Arts Center had to do something. All the arts can heal and tend to the soul.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 45.3 percent of women in Kentucky experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or rape in their lifetimes. Kentucky has the 11th highest femicide rate in the United States.

Net proceeds will be donated to Turning Point Domestic Violence Services at Martin, serving Pike County and the Westcare Perry Cline Emergency Shelter in Pikeville. With such an amazing variety of options at The Mountain Grrl Experience, Irwin knows there will be something for everyone. “If you have a mother or grandmother, wife or daughter, that you love, who was inspiring to you in your life–a strong Appalachian woman, you will love the Mountain Grrl Experience.”

Festivities begin at 11 am Friday, July 22 and run through Saturday evening, July 23. EVERYONE is welcome. For more information and for tickets, visit

Robin Irwin: (917) 312-2709

[email protected]

Source: Pikeville

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