• Adam Steffey and Will MacMorran Join East Tennessee State University Faculty

    Johnson City, Tenn. - Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University has announced the hiring of two new lecturers, Adam Steffey and Will MacMorran.

    "We were fortunate to have a number of excellent candidates for these positions and are thrilled to add these two superb musicians and teachers to our department's faculty," says Dr. Ron Roach, chair of the Department of Appalachian Studies. "Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies is the leading program in its field and a vital part of Appalachian studies at ETSU, attracting students from 22 states and three foreign countries. Will and Adam are outstanding additions to this program and will contribute a great deal to the department as we continue to move forward."

    Steffey's association with ETSU goes back to the mid-1980s, when he participated in the Bluegrass Program under the direction of Jack Tottle. He performed during those early years with the ETSU Senior Bluegrass Band and was featured on the program's first vinyl album release. His academic pursuits were placed on hold in 1987 for the opportunity to work professionally with the Lonesome River Band and later with Tim Stafford and Barry Bales in the band Dusty Miller. All three members received offers to perform full time with Alison Krauss and Union Station in 1990.

    Steffey was featured on Krauss's landmark albums for Rounder Records, Every Time You Say Goodbye and So Long So Wrong. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, the Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Kenny Chesney and countless bluegrass acts for the past 35 years. He has received five Grammy Awards and accolades from a myriad of prestigious music organizations. He is an 11-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Mandolin Player of the Year Award.

    In 2009, Steffey returned to ETSU to teach mandolin and bluegrass band classes as adjunct faculty. He also completed a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies while touring with the Dan Tyminski Band and The Boxcars. Now in a full-time position, Steffey is driven to create curriculum addressing music business issues specific to bluegrass.

    "Through my own experiences, as well as by conducting in-class interviews with other professional musicians and industry leaders, I plan to give students a real-world look at making music their vocation," says Steffey. "By giving our students a broad look into the business side of music, they will become better equipped for a future in music."

    MacMorran holds a bachelor of science in audio engineering technology from the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University, and a master of arts in liberal studies with a focus in Appalachian studies from ETSU. He is best known for his work over the past decade as a member of the Celtic rock band Seven Nations. Last fall, he was hired to play guitar for Streamsound recording artist Dakota Bradley's High School Nation Tour. He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and can teach advanced-level guitar, bass, highland and Uilleann bagpipes, Irish button accordion, Irish tenor banjo, Irish flute and whistles, and bouzouki.

    "Will has an almost superhuman ability to pick up any instrument, no matter if it has frets or pipes, and bring an audience to its feet," says program director Daniel Boner. "Equally impressive is his energy level and ability to perform very well under pressure. For two years, he studied full time for his master’s degree at ETSU, while also working for me as a graduate assistant and touring on weekends with Seven Nations. He is a great example for our students who want to improve musically and grow professionally."

    MacMorran will coordinate country music activities for the program and continue to assist in developing the Celtic music area. His experience as recording engineer and producer will bolster the recording technology curriculum.

    Both Steffey and MacMorran will continue to tour and perform for audiences across the country while teaching at ETSU.

    About East Tennessee State University

    Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies at ETSU is the oldest established program of its kind at any four-year institution. Founded in 1982 by Jack Tottle, the program offers a bachelor of arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies, as well as an undergraduate minor. The Department of Appalachian Studies offers a master of arts, graduate certificate, and undergraduate minor in Appalachian studies, as well as a summer study abroad experience to Scotland and Ireland.

    Additional information

    News release courtesy of Jennifer Hill, East Tennessee State University Office of University Relations. Photos of Adam Steffey and Will MacMorran courtesy of Daniel Boner, director of Bluegrass, Old Time and Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.