Julie Nelms ’17, a senior Appalachian studies major from Robbinsville, North Carolina, won the 2017 Red Foley Music Award. This award, established in memory of Country Music Hall of Fame star Red Foley who attended the Berea Academy, is presented by the Berea College Alumni Association once each academic year to recognize talented Berea students for their musical contributions to the social life of the campus community. The award consists of a plaque and cash prize intended to help the recipient in a professional music career, if he or she so desires.
“I’m extremely humbled to have been nominated and to have received this award, especially when looking at the previous winners,” Nelms said when asked about her reaction upon learning she had won the Red Foley Music Award. “Being recognized by my peers and other individuals for making a contribution to campus through music allows me to do something I’ve always strived to do―to reach out to others through music.”
While at Berea, Nelms participated in several musical ensembles every semester. She was a member of the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, the Berea College Folk Roots Ensemble, and the Alto section leader of the Berea College Women’s Chorus. As a member in these ensembles, Nelms has performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and on the national broadcast by CBS Television of “LISTEN! A Musical Celebration of Christmas at Berea College.”
A multi-talented singer and instrumentalist, Nelms will be touring Denmark and Ireland in June and July with the Bluegrass Ensemble this summer. Later, Nelms will be pursuing a master’s degree in Irish Music and Literature at National University of Ireland – Galway, having been awarded the Jean Ritchie Memorial Scholarship.
In describing her goals, Nelms said, “I would love to eventually pursue a professional career as a musician and bring bluegrass, folk, and traditional Appalachian music into the lives of countless individuals. Receiving this award gives me a good footing to go forth and start a dream I’ve had since I began playing at age eight. Once again I’m very thankful for this honor and cannot wait for what the future holds!”
Established in 1970, the Red Foley Award was initiated by E. E. Siman, Jr., V-12, ’44, Foley’s long-time friend and manager. The award is intended to promote the kind of music associated with Red Foley’s career-such as folk, country, bluegrass, gospel and popular music.