Ethel Fortner and Sam Ragan Arts Awards

21 March 2018, 3:58 pm Written by 
Published in Latest News

21 March 2018

Award recipients of the annual Ethel Fortner and Sam Ragan Arts Awards at St. Andrews University were presented March 15 to Ms. Janet Kenworthy and Dr. Douglas Orr.

Ms. Kenworthy, Aberdeen, NC, started and runs the musical theater known as The Rooster’s Wife. She was presented with the Ethel Fortner award by St. Andrews University president Paul Baldasare for her active role in the arts including music, literature and cinema. Settling in Aberdeen with her family in 1991 following work and living in New York City, she shares that she “has lived a story with a soundtrack, and a broad sensibility to all things artful.” Trips to New Orleans created a visceral reaction to what she perceived as a lack of affordable live music in her community.

Experiencing first hand the restorative effects of music and the arts led Ms. Kenworthy to open her home to give musicians and music lovers a way to building community. Weekend concerts, now over 300, of all musical genres fill the Rooster’s Wife located on Knight’s Street in Aberdeen. Created to serve the community by preserving the cultural heritage and presenting the talent of the next generation, the Rooster’s Wife is committed to offering affordable programs for every age to enjoy.

The Ethel Fortner Arts Award was established in 1986 to honor the legacy of Ms. Fortner—a poet, critic, editor, arts promoter and benefactor of St. Andrews press.

President Baldasare presented the Sam Ragan Arts Award to Dr. Doug Orr, president emeritus of Warren Wilson College, a liberal arts college in Asheville. Prior to that, he served as vice chancellor and faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he was a recipient of the teaching excellence award. He has served as board chair of the North Carolina Independent College and University Association, and board chair of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Orr was recognized by the governor of North Carolina with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. While at Warren Wilson he founded the Swannanoa Gathering summer music program that has become one of the nation’s most popular such events, attracting about 1500 participants each summer from all over the world for the five theme weeks.

He and his wife Darcy reside in Black Mountain, NC, and perform traditional Celtic and Appalachian music. They recently published through the UNC Press the New York Times best seller Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, co-authored with Fiona Ritchie, host of NPR’s The Thistle & Shamrock weekly radio program.

The Sam Ragan Arts Award was created in 1981 to honor Samuel Talmadge Ragan, North Carolina’s first Secretary of Cultural Resources.



St. Andrews University President Paul Baldasare presents the Ethel Fortner Arts Award to Janet Kenworthy (l) and the Sam Ragan Arts Award to Dr. Douglas Orr (r).