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Struck the Right Chord!♫

Posted on March 8, 2016 by in The OFI Blog

In January 2008 Douglas Peach, at the time a senior at Appalachian State University, joined the team of the Smithsonian Folkways as an intern. Now a promising ethnomusicologist, Doug looks back at his time with the Smithsonian and reflects on how this experience skyrocketed his future career.

During the internship he had an opportunity to get involved in a number of various projects such as the American Roots Music album published in partnership with the U.S. State Department, as well curating music for an African American History Month exhibition. One of the highlights, as Douglas recollects, was his engagement with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival where he established long-lasting connections with numerous artists from Bhutan, one of them being His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck.

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Douglas Peach, and May Peach at the 2008 Folklife Festival. Photo by Tom Peach

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Douglas Peach, and May Peach at the 2008 Folklife Festival. Photo by Tom Peach

The internship with the Smithsonian not only provided a great platform for learning, networking and skills development, but also helped Douglas realize how music can serve as “a powerful tool for understanding the people of the world”. It has the inexhaustible capacity for creating bonds across borders since the language it speaks reaches directly to human souls.

The academic appointment at the SI eventually opened up a number of career opportunities for Douglas. His subsequent projects included working as a music supervisor for a documentary film Worlds of Sound: The Ballad of Folkways, advising the Future of Music Coalition on the indigenous musicians across the world, and co-authoring a book on an American folk songwriter. Shortly afterwards he was offered a position as Folklife and Traditional Arts Program Director at McKissick Museum (University of South Carolina) and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Currently pursuing his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at Indiana University-Bloomington, Douglas is full of enthusiasm to follow the path he chose to walk 8 years ago. It seems that while ‘jamming’ at the Smithsonian, he was very lucky to strike the right chord.

To read the original article by Douglas Peach at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage blog please click here.

Douglas Peach, Folkways marketing director David Horgan, and Emily Hilliard—then a Folkways intern and now state folklorist of West Virginia—jamming in the Folkways offices. Photo courtesy of Douglas Peach

Douglas Peach, Folkways marketing director David Horgan, and Emily Hilliard, a former Folkways intern —jamming in the Folkways offices. Photo courtesy of Douglas Peach