Ledgin, Stephanie P. 1952-

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Ledgin, Stephanie P. 1952-

PERSONAL:

Born December 23, 1952, in New York, NY; daughter of Norman M. (an author) and Barbara H. (a musician) Ledgin; married Theodoros Toskos, March 1, 1990. Education: University of Missouri, undergraduate studies; Rutgers University, B.A.; graduate studies at Rutgers University. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Ballet, clog dancing, languages, travel, bird watching, cats.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Pittstown, NJ. Office—P.O. Box 628, Pittstown, NJ 08867. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Music journalist, photographer, and author. Pickin' Magazine, Denville, NJ, assistant editor, 1975-77; Hadassah, Women's Zionist Organization of America, New York, NY, writer and production assistant for national promotions department, 1979-1981; Hadassah Magazine, New York, NY, editorial assistant, 1981-82; Convenience Store Merchandiser, New York, NY, associate editor, 1982-83; L.F. Kimball Research Institute of the New York Blood Center, New York, NY, editorial administrative assistant, 1984-88; The Traditional MusicLine, New Brunswick, NJ, editor and publisher, 1987-2004; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, lecturer in American studies, 1998-2003. "CityFolk," WFUV-FM, radio host, 1989-1990; director, New Jersey Folk Festival, Rutgers University, 1994-2003; producer of concert series and festivals. Mine Street Coffeehouse, New Brunswick, volunteer publicity coordinator, 1996-99. Has exhibited photography at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Nashville, TN, 2005; the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York, NY, 2005-06; and the International Bluegrass Music Museum, Owensboro, KY, 2007-08.

MEMBER:

International Bluegrass Music Association (member of board of directors, 2005-08), North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance (founding member), European Bluegrass Music Association, Livingston College Alumni Association (executive council member, 2004-07), Folk Project of New Jersey, Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Bill Palius award, Folk Music Society of Northern New Jersey, 1992; Brown Jug Award, Park Slope New York Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival Association, 2004; International Bluegrass Music Print Media Person of the Year, 2005; Charlie Lamb "Career" Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism, International Country Music Conference/Belmont University, 2007.

WRITINGS:

(Coeditor) Hot Licks for Bluegrass Fiddle, 1984.

Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass, foreword by Ricky Skaggs, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.

From Every Stage: Images of America's Roots Music, foreword by Charles Osgood, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Encyclopedia of New Jersey, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Sing Out!, Bluegrass Now, Acoustic Guitar, Strings, Country Rhythms, Cashbox, and Bluegrass Unlimited.

SIDELIGHTS:

Stephanie P. Ledgin is an award-winning music journalist and photographer whose specialty is American bluegrass and folk music. With an author as her father, a classical violist and pianist for a mother, and grandparents who were dancers, Ledgin grew up in the perfect family for someone who would become a music journalist. While she was still a little girl, her family moved to Louisiana Cajun country where she was surrounded by music. However, it was not until she attended a 1970 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert that she found her love: bluegrass. After graduating from Rutgers University, she found a job as an editor for Pickin' Magazine, one of the first bluegrass magazines. After a short stint living in Nashville and learning more about bluegrass and country music, she moved to New York City in 1979 where she worked for the Zionist organization Hadassah. She continued through much of the 1980s working editorial jobs in nonmusic-related publications, returning to music in 1987 as the founder of Traditional MusicLine, a regional monthly calendar of music events in the Northeast. She served as editor and publisher until she folded the publication in 2004. Meanwhile, Ledgin was hired by Rutgers University as director of the prestigious New Jersey Folk Festival, which brought with it the title of lecturer in American studies. She was also one of the first radio hosts of "CityFolk," the popular programming slot of New York City Public Radio, WFUV 90.7 FM.

While in New York City, Ledgin became an active music promoter and organized bluegrass concerts at the Lone Star Café, beginning in 1987. Also during the late 1980s and early 1990s she coproduced bluegrass and old-time music programs at the Eagle Tavern in New York City. Ledgin is credited with helping to introduce now well-known bluegrass talents to New York City audiences, such as Alison Krauss; her work at Eagle Tavern also instigated another career: artist management and tour booking. This began when she met guitarist Beppe Gambetta, who asked her to handle his national tour. She would become Gambetta's manager from 1989 to 1999. Ledgin's talent as a photographer, which took root when she was given a camera when she was eight years old, lent itself well to music promotion, and some of her work appears on record album covers such as "The Johnson Mountain Boys at the Old School House," which was nominated for a Grammy award. Her photographs have more recently been exhibited at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Music, Lincoln Center, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Ledgin is the author of music books, as well, including Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass and From Every Stage: Images of America's Roots Music. The former is meant as an introduction to readers who have just become acquainted with bluegrass due to such popular films as O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the music of Krauss and the Dixie Chicks. In a relatively short book of only 181 pages, Ledgin attempts to cover a great deal of territory. She covers the history of bluegrass, its early influential figures, related subgenres such as jazz grass and newgrass, the main themes of bluegrass music, types of instruments common in the genre, music festivals, contests, and the emergence of bluegrass into the popular mainstream. Ledgin also includes interviews that she conducted with such stars as Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen and Jeff Hanna.

"The results are candid dialogues with major musical figures that, although not integrated into the larger text, add insight into bluegrass," reported Tracey E.W. Laird in a Popular Music and Society review. Laird felt that the book falls short of being definitive because of its length; "no topic enjoys a sense of depth." Also because of this brief treatment of history, according to Laird, some information becomes confusing, such as the "origins and precedents of bluegrass … [and] the explanation of call and response." Laird concluded: "As it stands, the history does not plumb deeply enough to enhance the neophyte's understanding of bluegrass." In a review in Sing Out! John Lupton noted that a book such as Ledgin's is a good idea, especially since other publications on the topic, such as Bluegrass: A History by Neil Rosenberg, would likely be too in-depth for most audiences. Lupton appreciated the "more or less conversational" style of the writing. The critic noted that just what exactly defines bluegrass music as such is still a matter of debate, but that "Ledgin walks this line confidently, drawing the basic threads together into a coherent narrative while acknowledging at appropriate points that there are controversies and disagreements in some areas."

Ledgin's From Every Stage includes 200 photographs and a handful of rare, previously unpublished interviews by the author, covering some three decades of Ledgin's personal experiences in the music industry. Tom Drukenmiller, writing for Sing Out!, particularly enjoyed the photographs, which show such groups and individual performers as the Green Grass Cloggers, Johnson Mountain Boys, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Tom Chapin at live concerts. Interviews with such luminaries as Bill Monroe are also highlights, according to the critic, who concluded: "There is really something here for everyone interested in American roots music."

Ledgin told CA: "My father is a journalist, who, along with my mother, provided me with a splendid introduction into folk, classical, and Broadway music as my siblings and I were growing up in various parts of the country. I inherited my father's talent for writing and began to pursue it more actively after a summer abroad during high school.

"I am influenced by the depth of an artist's talent as well as topics outside of music that need to be covered in innovative settings.

"I am a pressure writer. First drafts are typically final drafts and rarely need or receive rewrites or edits (beyond style) once on an editor's desk.

"I hope that my books will open people's minds to music that is often overlooked, underplayed, and sometimes ‘dissed’ by commercial media, when in reality bluegrass and folk music are quite complex, deep, and virtuosic."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICAL

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April, 2005, T.M. Schlak, review of Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass, p. 1409.

Journal of American Culture, June, 2006, Don Cusic, review of From Every Stage: Images of America's Roots Music, p. 238.

Library Journal, October 1, 2004, Henry L. Carrigan, review of Homegrown Music, p. 83.

Popular Music and Society, July, 2006, Tracey E.W. Laird, review of Homegrown Music, p. 404.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of Homegrown Music.

Sing Out!, winter, 2005, John Lupton, review of Homegrown Music, p. 113; winter, 2006, Tom Drukenmiller, review of From Every Stage, p. 110.

ONLINE

Stephanie P. Ledgin Home Page,http://fiddlingwithwords.com (March 27, 2008).