Jeri Katherine Howell
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Jeri Katherine Howell

Frankfort, KY | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Frankfort, KY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo Americana Folk




"Bluegrass Bios"

Radio interview with Chuck Clenney on his show "Bluegrass Bios" on Lexington Community Radio. - Lexington Community Radio

"Cornbread & Tortillas Event Gets smARTy Award"

By Carla Gover

I’d like to thank the Kentucky Arts Council for honoring the first Cornbread & Tortillas event with a smARTY Award, on behalf of all the artists and volunteers who made the event a success! It makes a difference to know that our peers and colleagues notice and appreciate our efforts, and it helps give us renewed enthusiasm to continue with this good work. Appalatin, Casa de la Cultura Hispana, Jeri Katherine Howell, our volunteers and I were thrilled at how many people came out to support our fledgling project, and look forward to many future events in communities throughout the state. Cornbread & Tortillas is more than a festival. It’s an ongoing series of collaborative projects between artists who believe the best way to build bridges and create community is through music, culture and food!

In the future, we plan to have a full-length theater show that we can perform in diverse venues, educational outreach performances, community gardening initiatives and food-centered cultural events in the bluegrass and beyond! We were recently selected to receive an ArtsMatch grant from the Fund for the Arts in Louisville, and are planning our first Louisville event for 2017. Other plans include extending our performance to include African-American perspectives and artists. So, from Appalatin, Casa de la Cultura Hispana, Jeri Katherine Howell, all the amazing volunteers who helped make our first event a success, and myself, Carla Gover, we thank the Kentucky Arts Council for all it does to help the arts continue to be a vibrant part of our state!

The Kentucky Arts Council’s SmARTy initiative recognizes artists, arts organizations, communities and other individuals and entities that are doing innovative work through the arts within the Commonwealth. - Kentucky Arts Council

"Centre to Japan for Kentucky Bluegrass Week"

The fall semester may have ended, but half a world away, thirteen members of the Centre College and Danville communities are taking part in an important cultural exchange.

The delegation—comprised of Centre faculty, staff, students and alumni, along with representatives from local businesses—is in Japan for Kentucky Bluegrass Week, an opportunity for those in the Yamaguchi Prefecture to learn about the culture of Kentucky, including its traditional music, food, drink, pastimes and customs.

“This interactive exchange of arts and culture helps us all to see that, while we are different, we are very much the same,” says Steve Hoffman, executive director of the Norton Center for the Arts and a key organizer of Kentucky Bluegrass Week.

Many of the events will take place at Yamaguchi Prefectural University (YPU), Centre’s exchange partner in western Japan since 1999. Over the years, Centre and YPU students have studied abroad on each other’s campuses—and professors from each institution also participate in an annual faculty exchange.

Robert Schalkoff, a former faculty member at YPU who joined Centre as director of the Lincoln Scholars Program in the summer of 2016, has played a key role in putting together Kentucky Bluegrass Week. He looks forward to the genuine cultural exchange the events will allow.

“This is an opportunity for us to educate the general public about each of these cultures,” Schalkoff says. “We wanted a multi-media approach—public speaking engagements, performances, collaborations and exchanges—that wouldn’t limit itself to just the universities.”

The Kentucky Music Ensemble, featuring Centre faculty, students and alumni.

One major event, taking place on the YPU campus, will feature booths explaining Kentucky businesses and their connections to Japan, as well as aspects of local culture. Visitors will also hear a discussion between the members of the Centre and YPU communities who collaborated to create Kentucky Bluegrass Week.

That event will be topped off with performances by the Kentucky Music Ensemble (KME), a group of musicians comprised of Centre faculty, students and alumni who play bluegrass music representing the unique culture and traditions of Kentucky. They will also perform bluegrass arrangements of traditional Japanese folk tunes.

The KME is led and was founded by Associate Professor of Music Nathan Link, a Yale-trained musicologist who specializes in 18th-century opera. Link plays guitar in the group and often also sings lead vocal.

As this marks the first time the KME will perform for audiences who do not speak English as a first language, Centre students currently studying Japanese will introduce the group at each show, giving them an opportunity to apply their knowledge of the language in a real-world setting.

These and other members of the delegation will also give lectures and demonstrations throughout Yamaguchi. Danville resident and tea expert Bruce Richardson will present about the “tastes of Kentucky,” including bourbon, and will also discuss the import of Japanese tea to America.

Kensuke Yamada, visiting professor of art at Centre, will visit the studio of a master potter—a rare and exciting opportunity to learn from one of the greats.

“[The master potter] is what the Japanese call an ‘intangible cultural asset’ of the state of Yamaguchi,” Schalkoff explains. “He’s agreed to welcome Kensuke to his studio to get to know one another, to show him what they do. We’re hoping that this kind of meeting might spark some inspiration between the two.”

The KME will also have the opportunity to “jam” with Japanese musicians—and will even perform alongside a traditional Japanese dance company, providing the accompaniment to a new piece of Japanese choreography created by the group.

Kentucky Bluegrass Week was inspired by and grew out of the success of the Japanese Winter Plum Festival that took place in Danville in 2015. Organized by Hoffman and Schalkoff, YPU students and professors and a traditional theatre troupe traveled to Centre to share Japanese culture with Kentucky.

“At that time, Steve and I started talking about what this would look like as a flipped event,” Schalkoff says. “We talked about the kind of educational opportunities that would open up for the community as a whole.”

Along with those educational opportunities, this cultural exchange also gives local businesses and supporters—some of which have ties to Japan—to introduce their services and products to a new audience. Those local partners include the Japanese-based company Denyo, Japanese-owned bourbon distilleries Four Roses and Maker’s Mark, Corning (which has plants near Yamaguchi), Kentucky Soaps & Such, Wilderness Trail Distillery, both the Danville/Boyle County and Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureaus, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Heart of Danville, Keeneland, the Kentucky Department of Travel and Kentucky for Kentucky.

Kentucky Bluegrass Week and the participation of so many Centre and Danville community members were also made possible through several grants, including $30,000 from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission; $3,000 from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership Grassroots Exchange and Education Program; and The Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Cultural Exchange Fund.

“With many thanks to our grantors, this excursion truly is a cultural exchange,” Hoffman says.

This visit across the world to facilitate learning is only an expansion of the global citizenship Centre consistently promotes, supports and provides.

“Steve and I have learned through this how receptive people are to this type of collaboration if you only suggest it,” Schalkoff adds. “It broadens and deepens our capacity for exchange and education.”

by Elizabeth Trollinger
December 14, 2016 - Centre College

"Jeri Howell Awarded Fulbright"

Jeri Howell ’16 was recently awarded a prestigious Fulbright grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Through the grant, Howell will be an English Teaching Assistant in Costa Rica over the 2016-17 academic year.

“I am most looking forward to two things: building relationships with the community and my students, as well as experiencing inner growth and identity shift within myself, especially as I discover who I am as a teacher,” Howell says.

The competitive Fulbright grant program, established in 1946 as the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, allows a carefully selected group of people to teach, research and advise others in a number of foreign countries. Howell will be one of 1,900 Fulbrights doing work abroad in 2016-17.

Along with teaching English, Howell plans to incorporate her other interests—including music and the environment—into her Fulbright year as well.

“I will conduct an original music project that seeks to capture Costa Ricans’ cultural perspectives on the environment,” Howell says. “I plan to combine these positions with community ‘open mic nights,’ during which I will share my original music, my university students will share their original works in English and community members will share their songs, stories, dance and poems.”

Howell, a Spanish and environmental studies double major from Frankfort, Ky., is no stranger to accolades and accomplishments at Centre College. She was awarded the Gavin Easton Wiseman Valedictorian Prize for the top female graduate at the 2016 Commencement exercises. At this year’s Honors Convocation, she was awarded both the Mason Knuckles Award for an outstanding senior and the Leonard and Vivian DiLillo Spanish Prize for the most outstanding senior Spanish major.

A talented singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, Howell is a member of Centre’s Kentucky Ensemble, a music group that recently toured New England over the College’s spring break. She has also released two albums of her own music.

In 2015, Howell was part of a group of students who presented research and internship findings at the Latin American Studies Symposium. As a junior, Howell completed an internship at the Backside Learning Center (BLC), a non-profit organization that aims to better workers at Churchill Downs through both academic and community opportunities. She also completed an internship with The Nature Conservancy over the summer before her senior year.

Howell, who has worked in Centre’s Residence Life Office since officially graduating early from Centre in the fall, says she could “write a book” on how the College has prepared her for a Fulbright year. She credits the people she came to know at Centre as playing a huge role.

“My professors taught me that creativity and social justice can go hand in hand with academic analysis and study,” Howell says. “Staff members taught me that building community and character is just as much a part of the college experience as classes; even more, that it is integral to everything that you do in life.”

More than anything else, Howell credits the liberal arts education she received at Centre as being crucial to her life and work.

“When I came to Centre, I did not think that my diverse passions could combine into one life,” she explains. “I felt that my music could not be a part of my academic pursuits, and that my love of community and service did not have anything to do with my research papers. But Centre proved me wrong and opened up a whole new, fulfilling world to me.

“The liberal arts experience that I received here at Centre helped me to realize that I am not a person of separate identities,” Howell continues, “but of interconnected interests and loves that inform and inspire one another.”

by Elizabeth Trollinger
June 9, 2016 - Centre College

"Centre's Kentucky Ensemble Tour New England"

Centre alumni, friends and family in the northeast can enjoy a taste of the bluegrass when the Kentucky Ensemble plays shows throughout New England next week.

The Kentucky Ensemble, comprised of Centre students, alumni and faculty and staff members, will perform at a variety of venues in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont during March 19-25, the week of Centre’s spring break.

Band members who will be playing and singing as part of the ensemble are Cassie Chambers ’16, Coordinator for Residence Life and Housing Jeri Howell ’16, Jimmy Kalb ’12, NEH Associate Professor of Music Dr. Nathan Link, retired professor of chemistry and environmental studies Dr. Conrad Shiba, and Braden Urevick ’16.

“I’m really excited to be able to experience going on tour—it’s always been a dream of mine,” says Urevick. “I’m especially looking forward to playing and spending time with a really great, fun and talented group of people.”

Those who turn out for the Kentucky Ensemble shows should prepare to hear—and join in with—music both old and new, and should also expect a bit of the unexpected.

“Audiences who have never seen us can expect a real mixture of traditional music and more contemporary material based on the traditions of the American South,” says Link. “We’re also focusing on making the show participatory through sing-a-longs. And there’s a surprise—a new element to our show that people will have to come and see for themselves.”

Most of all, the band looks forward to having a good time with audiences while sharing their music throughout New England.

“Folks should expect to experience a band of friendship and fun. We all really like one another and it shows on stage,” Howell says. “You will laugh with us, sing with us, dance with us, stomp your feet with us. It’s a treat to bring Kentucky to the northeast.”

Information about the dates, times and venues of the Kentucky Ensemble’s tour of New England can be found below.

March 19: Brooklyn Music Factory, Brooklyn, N.Y.
March 21: The Carriage House Seniors Center (private show), Wayland, Mass.
March 22: Arabica Coffee, Portland, Maine
March 24: Samuel Wagner Middle School (private show), Winterport, Maine
House Concert, Winterport, Maine (if interested in attending, please call Jeri Howell at 502-803-5077 to RSVP)
March 25: House Concert, Strafford, Vt. (if interested in attending, please email and include your connection to Centre)

To keep up with the Kentucky Music Ensemble on tour and throughout the year, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Above, (from left): Kentucky Ensemble members Conrad Shiba, Cassie Chambers ’16, Jeri Howell ’16, Nathan Link, Jimmy Kalb ’12, and Braden Urevick ’16

by Elizabeth Trollinger
March 16, 2016 - Centre College

"Jeri Howell '16 Sings and Strums Her Way into the Spotlight"

She's opened for Dailey & Vincent. She's recorded music with such musicians as Jeff Ellis, Carla Glover and Molly Rogers. She has already recorded several singles and released one feature CD, with her second coming out this summer. And she's also a member of the Class of 2016 at Centre College. Soon enough, everyone will know her name: Jeri Howell.

Howell's upcoming CD, featuring all original songs she wrote, follows her 2008 debut, "Branch to Branch." The CD features long-time friend and Centre alumna Daphne Fields ’01 on bass. As Howell explains, "She's been with me since the beginning. Her husband taught me how to play guitar, and she's been playing and singing harmonies with me ever since.

"This CD is a highly anticipated project that I've been working on for about a year with incredible Kentucky musicians, recorded and co-produced by Brandon Bowlds of Lexington," Howell adds. "It will be available at all of my shows, through iTunes and to order through my website."

Singing and songwriting have long been part of Howell's life.

"I remember my sister and I writing songs while we played on the swing set when I was six years old," she says. "I really got into 'old-time/mountain' music after attending Cowan Creek Mountain Music School— an amazing, weeklong music school in Whitesburg, Ky.—when I was ten years old. That's where I met the majority of the musicians that I play with today and who are on my new CD."

Howell recorded her first single, "Change Our Ways," in 2007 at 13 years old. Jeff Ellis, of Frankfort band Stirfry Mussette, was inspired to write the song for Howell after hearing her perform. Several years later, Howell and musician Carla Glover received a Master and Apprenticeship Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Carla, the 'master,' taught me, the 'apprentice,' about old-time singing, harmony, songwriting and stage performance—including clogging!" Howell says. "This was an amazing experience, and I learned a lot from Carla. She has taught me so much."

Recording her first album in 2008 took Howell to Nashville's Sunrise Studio, where she collaborated with a variety of artists. The record gained more traction than she had originally anticipated.

"Much to my surprise, the CD began selling throughout the U.S. and in seven European countries within its first year of release, thanks to online distributing sites such as CD Baby and iTunes," says Howell. "You can still purchase the album today on iTunes and at my shows—or if you run into me on campus!"

Earlier this year, Howell was featured on Stirfry Mussette's new album, "No String Unturned," along with Ben Sollee and Molly Rogers. The track "Love at Play" was co-written by Howell and guitar player Jeff Ellis.

Howell has already performed alongside some legends, but that doesn't stop her from dreaming big.

"I hope to keep performing, writing and recording my whole life, but I don't have the desire to get any 'bigger' than or even near as 'big' as, say, Gillian Welch. That being said, I'd love to just have a picnic with her and work through her songwriting brain and sing a couple harmonies together," Howell says. "I would probably faint from sheer happiness if I got to open for and sing with Brandi Carlile or Patty Griffin."

Songwriting comes naturally to Howell—in some ways, she feels that it's a gift.

"Singing and writing music have always seemed to be a part of me. When I write, it is usually because some experience in the past has dug deep into me, I've nurtured it every now and then with contemplation and recognition, and one day it just bursts to the surface and I get the immediate urge to write," she says. "That is almost always how my lyrics come about—it's as if I'm not really thinking about the words I'm writing, but that I'm the medium through which this feeling is recording its poetry. It's a very cool experience."

Living in the Bluegrass State has been beneficial and important to Howell's musical career.

"Kentucky is jam-packed full of incredible musicians. It blows my mind that I've had multiple opportunities to hang with Ben Sollee, and that Jordon Ellis is playing on this new CD of mine and continues to be an amazing friend in my life," Howell says. "We all seem to take care of each other. I know I can call up Carla or John Harrod ’67 and chat with them for hours or ask them at the last minute to play a gig. We are really blessed here."

Howell specifically says the vibrant cultural scene of Frankfort, her hometown, has enriched her love of music.

"I have been incredibly blessed to grow up in a town that has a rich folk music community and has always fostered my development as a musical performer," she says, particularly crediting "the Folk Club of Frankfort, the Grand Theatre, the Kentucky Coffeetree Café and individual community members I have been able to open for—Ben Sollee, Sam Bush, Sara Watkins, Patrick Dethlefs, Robinella and Daryll Scott. I assume that it was partly because of these accomplishments that I got to open for Dailey & Vincent in Louisville."

With her first year at Centre drawing to a close, Howell greatly appreciates the musical opportunities offered at the College and what she has learned this year.

"The musical community at Centre is amazing, and they have nurtured me so much. Nathan Link and Dr. Conrad Shiba have made a huge impact on my positive experience at Centre, encouraging me musically and leading the Kentucky Music Ensemble," Howell says. "I've been fortunate to enter into a band with amazing student musicians and vocalists who are excited to learn new styles, create their own 'sound,' work out wicked cool harmonies, perform multiple shows and just goof around and have a good time. Also, music shows at the Norton Center and Club Weisiger knock my socks off.

"For me, music is about creation and community," Howell adds. "Centre really fosters this."

With her new CD on the horizon, Howell's plans for the future are big—yet easily attainable for someone with so much success to her name.

"My realistic aspirations right now are to eventually allot the time and accrue the resources to do a tour," she says. "Maybe it will be just one summer and maybe it will only be in Kentucky and the surrounding states, but I'll do it someday." - Centre College

"Kentucky Homefront Radio Coming to the Grand Theatre Stage"

Just when you needed a post-holiday pick-me-up, John Gage is bringing his Kentucky Homefront radio show to the Grand Theatre Friday, 7:30 p.m. The live taping promises to be a window into the musical life of Frankfort, featuring Stirfry Musette and special guests Jeri Katherine Howell and Molly Rogers.

Gage is a Louisville-based folk singer/songwriter and veteran stage emcee who hosts monthly live tapings of Homefront radio airing on Louisvilles WFPK 91.9 FM. The show traditionally features the best of acoustic, folk, traditional, blues, country and bluegrass musicians as well as storytellers. Producers have a longstanding commitment to local and regional artists.

Gage has followed the restoration of the Grand Theatre with great interest and hopes to raise awareness of the theater in the Louisville area through this event.

The Homefront taping will be mostly about music, although former Kentucky poet laureate Richard Taylor will offer a short poem. Then things get stirred up.


Jeff Ellis, guitarist for Stirfry Musette said members of the group like to stir things up and fry them. Adding Musette to the moniker distinguishes the group from food, in the world of Google searches. Expect a gourmet musical mix of originals, Americana, gypsy jazz and Latin acoustic music.

Ellis is a mostly self-taught musician who has shared his talents with many local groups: The Tone Poets, COCO Yam and Mingoze Riff. Son Jordan plays percussion for Stirfry as well as touring and recording with Ben Sollee, multi-talented cellist and singer/songwriter.

Joanna Hay is the Hay of Hay and Pond, who with Greg Pond entertained local audiences with Celtic jigs and gypsy tunes several years ago. She studied violin at the University of Louisville as a high school student and played in the Louisville Youth Orchestra.

Local piano tuner and rebuilder Ben Griffith is an accordionist and bass player for Stirfry. Audiences may remember him from the Bald Knob String Band and currently the Peach Pie Band.

Stirfry Musette and friends will introduce their latest CD, No String Unturned.

Jordan Ellis mixed, recorded and played on the CD. The elder Ellis wrote many of the songs. Most are original tunes, with a couple of covers.Hay describes the music as upbeat, lively and fun.

We dont take ourselves too seriously, she said, but we take our music very seriously.

The widely distributed photograph of a Pike County soldier in Iraq smoking a cigarette served as inspiration for Jeff Ellis to write an especially poignant piece titled Bluegrass Boy in Baghdad. Ellis and Jeri Katherine Howell collaborated on the lyrics for Love at Play with Howell doing the vocals. No Silver Spoon is a tune Ellis began writing many years ago, but just recently finished.

Ben Sollee and guest Molly Rogers are also featured on the CD.


Guest performers Rogers and Howell became known to Frankfort music lovers as little more than youngsters.

Rogers began violin at age 5, moved on to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory and then to the Cleveland Institute of Music. She appeared twice as a soloist with the Louisville Orchestra, among her other credits.

Today Rogers lives in Los Angeles and earns her living as a musician, playing weddings, corporate gigs, doing studio work and playing in a couple of rock bands. She has recorded a CD with one of the bands, Wise Cab.

Rogers blames Stirfry friends Hay and the Ellises for her move from strictly classical music performance to a more eclectic mix. She was terrified the first time she jammed with Stirfry at a private Christmas party as a 13-year-old and later as a stand-in for Hay, but she ultimately took their advice to let loose and have fun. Shes never looked back.

Jeff Ellis was awed by the beautiful voice of then 13-year-old Howell singing at the Grand Theatre. Knowing her keen interest in the environment, he wrote Change Our Ways for her, a song she has performed many times at benefit appearances.

Howell has shown amazing maturity and creativity in her own songwriting. She has played with Stirfry as well as many local and regional artists and recorded a CD.

Howell is a freshman at Centre College where she performs with the KY Music Ensemble, a student group playing traditional tunes. Shes working on another CD.

She owes much, she said, to the experience with Stirfry musicians who pushed her out of her folk comfort zone and taught her a lot about performance.

The musical life of Frankfort has benefited from the wealth of local talent, the opening of the Grand Theatre in 2006 and the ability of downtown Frankforts Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe to attract and nurture amazing musicians from near and far.

Fridays performance is a Folk Club of Frankfort and Paul Elsey Roots Music/Storytelling Fund partnership event.


Tickets are $20, $15 and $10 and are available through the Grand ticket office, 312 W. Main, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; by phone, 502-352-7469 or via the website

Tickets remained in all price ranges at press time. - The State Journal


Change Our Ways (Single), 2007

Branch to Branch, 2008

Collage, 2013

No String Unturned Stirfry Mussette (Featured Artist), 2013

Red River Moon, DVD Mighty Quinn Productions (Guest Appearance & Soundtrack), 2013



Jeri Katherine Howell is an Americana singer-songwriter and rhythm guitarist from Frankfort, Kentucky who commands each performance with her sweet and soulful voice, thought-provoking lyrics, and joyful presence. "From an early age, Jeri Katherine has shown a remarkable sensibility to express a wide range of emotions in the traditional styles of Americana, Appalachian, and Roots music," states Brian Baker - longtime fan and folk music enthusiast. "For many years, there has been no need to add such words as 'new' or 'up and coming' when describing Jeri Katherine, but more appropriate to simply say that she is one of the finest Americana singer/songwriters in the country."

Jeri Katherine has been writing and performing as a solo artist – and collaborating with Kentucky musicians – for over 12 years. In 2007 she won 2nd Place in the Flat Rock Music Festival Songwriters Contest for the title track of her first album Branch to Branch. In 2011 she was voted Frankfort's Best Musical Performer and received the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to study and perform with master songstress Carla Gover. As she developed artistically, Jeri Katherine began performing with world music band Stirfry Musette and was featured on their 2013 release No String Unturned. That same year, Jeri Katherine released her latest album, Collage, featuring 14 original tracks and several of Kentucky's best players. As Jeri Katherine dove into student life at Centre College, she immersed herself in the campus folk music scene as a lead singer and guitarist in the College’s Kentucky Music Ensemble.  2016 brought two tours with the ensemble: one in the Northeastern U.S. and the other in Yamaguchi, Japan as part of “Kentucky Bluegrass Week.” With her fierce interest in cultural exchange and community engagement upon graduation, Jeri Katherine received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant with the U.S. Department of State and performed and lectured throughout San Carlos, Costa Rica with Nat Colten - her partner in music and life - for the 2017 year.

Currently, Jeri Katherine is writing songs, performing locally, collaborating, and re-rooting in Kentucky soil.

Band Members