An evening with High Country musician, Rhonda Gouge: A Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecture

For those looking for traditional mountain entertainment and insight into area culture and innovations, the John B. Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae invites the community to its free summer lecture series.

Wednesday, June 13, 20 and 27 will feature an area musician, entrepreneur and educator, respectively, to present exciting, informative programs.

Starting at 7 p.m. on June 13 in Evans Auditorium of the Cannon Student Center, popular area musician, Rhonda Gouge, will perform a concert of mountain music.

From Bakersville, North Carolina, Gouge has mastered guitar, mandolin, bass and banjo. She performs a mix of everything from traditional bluegrass, to old-time mountain, to gospel, folk music and more. 

Gouge began her music career learning piano as a young girl, before going on to work with neighbor Oscar “Red” Wilson, an acclaimed old-time and bluegrass musician.

She earned her master’s degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, where her work focused on mountain music. A highly-respected music teacher, she continues to perform solo and as part of various bands.

For her program on June 13, Rhonda will discuss her musical journey while performing on a variety of instruments.

On June 20, owner of Apple Hill Farm, Lee Rankin, will discuss her success as an entrepreneur in establishing agro-tourism in Matney, North Carolina, followed by a discussion with President of Lees-McRae, Dr. Herbert L. King, on June 27.

“Lees-McRae College welcomes everyone to share these Wednesday evenings with us,” Director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia, Michael Joslin, said. “Our programs will explore the region from a musician’s, an entrepreneur’s and an educator’s perspectives. John B. Stephenson would applaud the look at Appalachia provided by this diverse group.”

Scholar, teacher, humanist and supporter of Southern Appalachia, Stephenson began his career at Lees-McRae before rising to be the president of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. He left an enduring legacy of devoted stewardship of the mountains. The Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecture series honors his memory and carries forward his devotion to our southern mountains.

For additional information, contact Michael Joslin at

By Nina MastandreaJune 11, 2018