Kentucky Folklife program accepting nominations for Homer Ledford Award

The Kentucky Folklife Program is accepting nominations through Nov. 21 for the Homer Ledford Award.

Since 2007, the Homer Ledford Award has been given to Kentucky luthiers who have demonstrated outstanding craftsmanship, mastery of making and setting up instruments for excellent tone and playability, and who have been recognized by the communities of musicians they serve.

The Kentucky Folklife Program, based at Western Kentucky University, has a long history of working with the Kentucky Arts Council to document, present, conserve and teach the public about the rich heritage of folk and traditional artists working in Kentucky today. This award celebrates the legacy and creative industry of traditional stringed instrument makers who are vital to Kentucky musical culture.

The Kentucky Folklife Program and the Kentucky Arts Council will present the next Homer Ledford Award at Kentucky Crafted: The Market in the Lexington Center on April 22.

This award is given in honor and memory of master luthier, musician and educator Homer Ledford. Known for his superb craftsmanship, impressive productivity, inspired innovations, generous spirit, and willingness to teach anyone interested in his art, Homer had a profound impact on musical communities throughout Kentucky and far beyond. Many luthiers and musicians remember visiting his basement shop in Winchester, where he immersed himself in his work while sharing techniques, wisdom, and stories surrounding his cultural heritage. Ledford’s legacy lives on among today’s musical craftspeople, and this award symbolizes that legacy.

Past Homer Ledford Award recipients include Warren May of Berea, Art Mize of Lexington, Donna Lamb of Lancaster and Frank Neat of Russell Springs.

Application Process

In two pages or less, describe:

1. The type of instrument building, maintenance or repair work being carried out by the nominee.

2. The caliber of the nominee’s work as it pertains to their historical and cultural background.

3. How the nominee learned instrument making, including information on when, where, and from whom he or she learned.

4. How the nominee’s work samples (see below: Work Sample) demonstrate artistic excellence as defined by the community of musicians who play instruments that are built or maintained by the nominee.

Work Sample: In addition to the written portion, it will be important for the Homer Ledford advisory team to see sample images of the nominee’s work. Please attach to the same email 6-10 representative digital images of what you consider the nominee’s strongest work.

Attach your nomination and work sample to an email message and send to Virginia Siegel, Folklife Specialist, Kentucky Folklife Program at

If you have questions about this process, contact Virginia Siegel at (270) 745-4133.

Deadline for submissions is Nov. 21.

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