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Lilly Drumeva - Lilly of the West goes west!
"Bluegrass Europe" Nr. 86, January-March, ISSM: 2221-5328, interview by Angelika Torrie.

Recently, Lilly Drumeva was awarded a Fulbright scholarship! She is going to the USA to pursue her research in the field of bluegrass music.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries (see http://fulbright.state.gov).

So come 2013, for 5 months, Lilly will work and stay in the States studying and researching bluegrass music. The resulting research will be published in a book form and will be available to all bluegrass music fans and all music fans to enjoy.

During her work in the US, Lilly will be an ambassador for European bluegrass. BE wanted to know more:

BE: Lilly, congratulations on receiving this prestigious grant. How did you find out about this program and what made you apply for it?

Lilly: I knew about the Fulbright program for a long time and have colleagues who have received such grants in different fields. In Sofia I work closely with the US embassy, organising bluegrass and country music concerts. Their cultural department advised me to write a project in the field of bluegrass. I said that I would think about it and contact the Fulbright office. When I looked at the website, I started to read and followed the instructions. The Program was established in 1946 by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is sponsored by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Approximately 318,000 "Fulbrighters", 120,000 from the United States and 198,000 from other countries, have participated in the program, since its inception over sixty years ago. The Fulbright program awards approximately 8,000 new grants annually, currently, it operates in over 155 countries worldwide.
It is given to academics for outstanding achievements and contributions in their respective fields. I collected some information from the website and scheduled an appointment at the Fulbright office and obtained further details. The application process appeared very complicated, requiring many documents and forms to be filled and attached. Since nobody in Bulgaria had written a project in the field of bluegrass music, I knew that I had something unique. I started doing my research by reading a lot of books on the subject, highlighting useful paragraphs that I was going to use in my application. Three books were the main source for me to start: Richard B. Smith -"Bluegrass - an informal guide"; Neil V. Rosenberg -"Bluegrass- a history"; Stephanie P. Ledgin - "Homegrown music- discovering bluegrass"

BE: What exactly are you going to do? Where will you be staying?

Lilly: From August till November 2013 I'm going to conduct research in the US using three main places as my basic workplace: The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentuky; The Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky; The Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky.
Of course I'll visit the new IBMA office. I'll attend bluegrass festivals, music camps, conduct interviews and collect photographic material and data. I'm going to work at the above mentioned universities, study in their libraries; attend lectures and exchange information and ideas with university professors and bluegrass industry professionals.

BE: You mention a book possibly resulting out of this study - what is the concept of this book?

Lilly: My project is entitled "Bluegrass - more than American music"
I'm going to show that the roots of bluegrass music can be traced back and similarities can be found by comparing it with other folk music around the world in particular Bulgarian folk music. Secondly I'd like to focus on the fact that bluegrass is a lot more than just music.
The social aspect of it is even stronger than the music itself. It is accompanied by festivals, workshops, picking sessions, where fans and artists interact. The camaraderie that develops is an important aspect. Bluegrass is very much a community of like-minded individuals, a family. My research will focus on the above statements, showing that "Bluegrass is more than American music" It has not been done before; there is no similar initiative in Bulgaria. I'm going to focus also on the "bluegrass history" and "bluegrass today". My findings will be completed in a book which is going to be released in Bulgarian and English languages. It will be used as a guide in bluegrass music, a source of information and reference. It will be available at the libraries of the Bulgarian Academy of Music, National School of Music, New Bulgarian University and other institutions in the field of music. Parts of my book will be presented as lectures to students in the form of courses and seminars. Several articles / synopsis will be distributed in the Bulgarian media. My book will be the first material on bluegrass music released in Bulgaria and in the Balkans. It will have a great informative and educational value. I'd like to show also that bluegrass is a lot of fun, it is a way of life, a philosophy, a wonderful community. I hope to pass my enthusiasm about it to more people, so that they discover it and embrace it like I did.

BE: You offered to be an ambassador for European bluegrass - at what kind of events or opportunities do you expect to be able to be present?

Lilly: I'm going to attend the annual conference of IBMA in September 2013 as well as bluegrass festivals, music camps and gatherings, happening between August and November 2013. I'm going to have meetings with many people involved in the bluegrass industry, festival organisers, agents, band managers, record labels, songwriters, musicians and others. I'm going to consult university professors in the field of bluegrass and American folk music and collect valuable data among the academic circles. I'll be a bluegrass ambassador during my stay in the US and report to Bluegrass Europe about interesting meetings, findings and developments. I could send fresh interviews with leading bluegrass personalities, photographic material and other interesting news. I'll be happy to convey messages and suggestions from the EBMA board to the bluegrass communities in the US, especially to the IBMA board of directors, staff and members.

BE: What in particular are you looking forward to?

Lilly: I'm looking forward to having a thorough and fruitful research in the field of bluegrass music and its related genres, something for which I didn't have time before now. I have a plan and a detailed schedule of appointments, meetings, guidelines which I'm gong to follow. I hope to collect enough material in order to compile the first book on bluegrass music in Bulgaria. It will be well publicized and distributed. Also my goal is to organize the first bluegrass festival in Bulgaria, with its attendant workshops, meetings, lectures, discussions, documentaries, etc...