Karen A. McCurdy Hammered Dulcimer Almost everyone in her family plays an instrument and since early childhood, frequent family 'jam sessions' were common. So, it's no surprise that Karen now keeps folk music alive in her performances of folk, Celtic, and original music on the Hammered Dulcimer. 'I fell in love with the hammered dulcimer the very first time I heard it played. The instrument can be light, lively, and even a bit rowdy or, incredibly peaceful and gracious.' She has studied hammered dulcimer under the tutelage of several national and international renown dulcimists. Karen performs regularly throughout northeast Ohio along with her Celtic harper partner, Karen Babb, under the duet name of MacKaren. She also helped organize the folk group that is now playing together in Richfield, Ohio called The Village Musicians. Karen eagerly states, 'I can almost always find a group of people that are willing to put together a spur of the moment jam session when the urge to play hits!!' That's the joy of folk music. While performing instrumental and vocal music in a variety venues, Karen also loves to introduce children to the spontaneous fun of folk instruments and music. "Children are naturally drawn to the joy of music. It's delightful to watch a child get excited in the realization that they too can make music!!" Along with her instrumental and vocal interests, Karen has written many of her own tunes, all of which are dedicated to special people and events in her life. "I love being able to express feelings through my music. It's a very personal way of sharing a little of myself with the folks around me. I honestly feel music is a gift and it's also a gift to be able to share it with others." Karen was owner/operator of her own business for 23 years. She is now retired from her business career and dedicates her full time to music. Karen (Kep) Babb Celtic Harp Karen (aka "Kep") has been surrounded by music throughout her life. Her father played violin with the Big Bands, her mother and aunt sang on the radio (as well as while doing the dishes), and she studied vocal music at Kent State as an undergraduate. She says: "Making music is one of the most important aspects of my life. It keeps my sanity and fills my soul. Whatever the mood, there are always tunes that fit!" Although she plays several instruments, for the last 10 years, her mainstay has been the Celtic Harp. She is a long-time member of the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen, and the Scottish Harp Society of America. Of the harp, she says: "It's almost an addiction. You start with one, then, before you know it, you have, ummmm, multiples. They all have such interesting personalities!" She currently has four, and one under construction. She teaches harp in the folk tradition, insisting that her students learn "by ear as well as by paper." She performs with MacKaren, a harp/hammered dulcimer duet, as well as with various pick-up groups throughout the Ohio area. She is often asked to sit in with others because the harp brings a richness that enhances many types of music...and because she considers playing with others so much fun. "Sharing music is an almost universal need. Every milestone throughout life is celebrated with music. Any gathering, be it a wedding, a birthday, holiday celebrations, funerals, or a simple gathering of friends, is marked with music."