Precious Memories a new musical by Si Kahn, featuring Sue Massek
3227 N. Davidson St.
Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:00 PM
To hear Sue Massek’s high lonesome voice and frailed open back banjo is to travel
80 years back in time. We are invited to journey with Sue when she takes the stage
in Si Kahn’s new play with music Precious Memories, on Sunday, November 17th
Sue time travels all of us back to 1932, to the Bell County, Kentucky coal camp in
which she was born and raised. But she doesn’t just transport us, she mesmerizes
us. Long time folk and bluegrass DJ Jim Rogers, who was in the audience when Sue
performed Precious Memories to open the first ever Northern Appalachian Folk
Festival in Indiana, Pennsylvania in September, 2013, wrote to Si Kahn the morning
after: “When one woman on a stage can hold the attention of an audience for nearly
90 minutes, you know something special is taking place. I believe you've created a
masterpiece, and you've found the perfect person to deliver it. It was truly a privilege
to be there.”
It’s no surprise that Sue Massek can generate that kind of musical and artistic
power. She’s a founding member of Kentucky’s award-winning Reel World String
Band, which celebrates its 37th anniversary this year. No less an authority that LilyMay Ledford of the original Coon Creek Girls wrote: “You don’t see many people up on stage who’ve got fire. But you girls have got it. Lord, you girls are good!”
A master artist for the Kentucky Arts Council's Master/Apprentice program, Sue
Massek has taken her music as close to home as the Eastern Kentucky coalfields and
as far away as Italy. Most recently, she performed Precious Memories for a reunion
of women coal miners. Marat Moore, author of the book Women in the Mines: Stories
of Life and Work and a former miner herself, wrote afterwards: “Sue Massek blew us
away in her portrayal as Sarah Ogan Gunning. Our audience of women miners wept,
laughed, sang along, and rose to cheer Sue at the final curtain. We left inspired and
newly aware of the history of struggle and the power of ordinary people.”
Sue Massek is a musician committed to using the music she writes and the songs she sings as tools for social justice. As a member of the Reel World String Band from its beginning in 1977, she has been heavily influenced by the Highlander Center, which has provided training for grassroots movements beginning in the 1930′s. It’s there that the spirit and purpose of her music took shape.
With the band, Sue has toured throughout the USA, Canada, and Italy. They have created seven recording projects and play a variety of venues from community gatherings and picket lines in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields to the Lincoln Center in New York City. They have performed on numerous television and radio programs from local to international, and featured in magazines and newspapers throughout the country including MS and the New York Times.
Sue’s solo work has taken her to Guatemala and Nicaragua, but for three decades she worked in the schools using folk music, folk dance and folklife as methods of teaching core curriculum and diversity. She was a Circuit Rider for the Kentucky Arts Council for two years and has also worked for Kentucky as a “Community Scholar” in the “Folklife Program”. She participated in Appalshop’s “Voices From Home” cultural exchange in San Antonio and Alaska.
Sue just recently released a solo recording project, Brave is the Heart of a Singing Bird, which is a tribute to those people who influenced her music and activism.
She worked as a Cultural Organizer for the Appalachian Women’s Alliance for three years and the Kentucky Foundation for Women supporting feminist artists who use their art for social justice for seven years.
Sue lives with her partner in Willisburg, Kentucky on a small farm with 2 horses, 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her love for nature is the driving force and spiritual base for her life. She was born a “flatlander” in Kansas, but Sue embraces Kentucky and Appalachia as home for her heart and soul.
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