Gabrielle Gray – ROMP Director & Primary Grant Writer
A native of Somerset, Kentucky, born the 6th of 7 children in a musical family, Gabrielle’s initial tenure in Owensboro, Kentucky was as a violin performance major at Brescia College, where she was first chair of the Brescia College Orchestra and first violinist with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.
After college, she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she wrote music features for the arts and entertainment division of the Chicago-Sun Times newspaper and was a free-lance music feature writer for High Fidelity Magazine and other national periodicals and newspapers.
Returning to Kentucky, from 1987 to 2002, she composed music for film, theater, chamber groups and symphonies. She also returned to Owensboro for a short time when commissioned by the Owensboro Symphony to write a symphonic composition for its 25th anniversary celebration in 1991.
Gabrielle is the founder of the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, KY and was producer/director of that international festival from 1993-2002. During this time, she also developed numerous programs statewide, which continue to bring music to children… and children to music.
Returning to Owensboro for the 3rd time, Gabrielle was the Executive Director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum from January 2003 until December 2014, leading the museum and its programs, festivals and events to 1,200% growth and international significance and acclaim. She is a two-time recipient of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts; a recipient of the Brown-Forman Award, for her music compositions; a two-time recipient of the Al Smith Award; Woman of the Year, Somerset Business and Professional Women’s Club; and a multi-term Composer in Residence for the Kentucky Arts Council.
She is the mother of one child, Maggie, a student at Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Carly Smith – Interim Director
Carly C. Smith is the Interim Director at the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Carly is a native of Owensboro, Kentucky. She received an Associate’s Degree in the Arts in 2012 and is finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Management with Western Kentucky University. The road to the world of bluegrass has had many turns. During college, Carly was a lifeguard on the coast of North Myrtle Beach, SC for four years. After that, she was the Aquatics Director for a health club in Little River, SC for nearly a decade. Over the years, music has been a passion for Carly. In 2011, the Smith family moved to Owensboro, Kentucky, and Carly joined the staff of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, a dream job. In 2012, she was a class member of the IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass. The future of bluegrass is bright and this Owensboro native looks forward to preserving and growing the genre for many generations to come.
RaShae Jennings – Curator of Collections
RaShae Jennings was raised in the small town of Tompkinsville, Kentucky where she developed an early interest in “items from the past.” Working on a family farm, she developed a passion for items that were recovered originating from several Native American tribes in the Monroe County area. In 2008, RaShae graduated from Western Kentucky University with two Bachelor of Arts degrees. In 2011 she received her Master’s degree from WKU in Folk Studies with an emphasis on Historic Preservation. Beginning her career, she completed research and grants for The Shaker Museum of South Union under the guidance of Tommy Hines. Her work also includes an 1850’s historical home on the Biological Preserve owned by Western Kentucky University where she and a team helped to restore the house under the guidance of Dr. Michael Ann Williams. RaShae’s experience includes working with Marty Perry, The National Register Coordinator for the state of Kentucky where she nominated properties to the National Register of Historic Places. At the Kentucky Museum and Library, she enhanced her skills, learning various cataloging and conservation process from Sandy Staebell, Assistant Professor, Registrar/Collections Curator. She gained knowledge of museum procedures by working with Jonathan Jeffrey Professor, Manuscripts/Folklife Archives Coordinator at Western Kentucky University. RaShae continues to expand her love for the conservation of “old items from the past” by spending her free time documenting and preserving a civil war era cemetery on her family farm.
Chris Langdon – Promotions Director
Chris was born and raised in Owensboro and is a very proud native. Growing up in the area, he was always familiar with Bluegrass music, but it didn’t resonate at first. He remembers riding his skateboard to English Park during The World of Bluegrass, standing on the outside and wondering what was happening down on the river front. It wasn’t until 2005, when Chris attended ROMP for the first time, that he was really hooked. After a few years as a festival attendee he came on board as a volunteer, and eventually became a full time museum employee. Since then, Chris has learned so much, made so many friends, and found a home in Bluegrass that he never could have imagined. He loves being a part of the team and takes pride in preserving Bluegrass heritage and celebrating our future.
Katie Keller – Marketing Director
Katie Keller is the Marketing Director at the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, she is a graduate of the University of Kentucky where she earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Integrated Strategic Communication. After graduating, Katie returned to Owensboro to begin her career as the Promotions Director at Wax Works Video Works. After a few years she accepted a position with Don Moore Automotive as their Corporate Marketing Director. During this time she began volunteering for ROMP festival and the Bluegrass Museum, which eventually led to her move to the non-profit world. When she is not working at the Museum, Katie is involved in several volunteer organizations around Owensboro including a position as stage producer and host for Friday After 5, a 16-week summer concert series on Owensboro’s beautiful riverfront. She is also a sitting board member of the Junior League of Owensboro.
Katie Willis – Administrative Assistant
Katie Willis is an Archivist at the Bluegrass Music Museum. She began working at the Museum in August 2012 as an intern through OCTC’s Ready-to-Work Program. A short time later in 2013, she was hired part-time to assist in the gift shop as well as accession new artifact donations. In July of 2014, she was promoted to a full time position with the Museum. Katie continues to work on adding artifacts and files including CDs, DVDs, and articles into the Museum database, as well as assisting in setting up current and permanent exhibits throughout the Museum.
Melisa Anderson – Weekend Gift Shop Hostess
Joe Gray, Video Oral History Project Director
Randy Lanham, Education Director and Fiddle Instructor
Forrest Roberts, Research
Fred Bartenstein, Gary Reid, Joe Wilson: Historians
Mike Compton, IBMM Mandolin Camp Director
Violet Stearsman, Bookkeeper
Beth Tibbitts, Website
Mike Hobson, IT
Myriad CPA, Annual Independent Auditors