Jason Howard

A Few Honest Words

​In industry circles, musicians from Kentucky are known to possess an enviable pedigree–a lineage as prized as the bloodline of any bluegrass-raised thoroughbred. A Few Honest Words explores how Kentucky’s landscape, culture and traditions have influenced some of its most notable contemporary roots musicians. Featuring intimate interviews with household names (like Naomi Judd, Joan Osborne and Dwight Yoakam), emerging artists and local musicians, author Jason Kyle Howard’s rich and detailed profiles reveal how important the state and the Appalachian region remain to the creation and performance of roots music.
Jason Howard

Jason Kyle Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words, an essay collection that explores how the land and culture of Kentucky have shaped American music through the work of musicians including Naomi Judd, Joan Osborne, Dwight Yoakam, Nappy Roots, Matraca Berg, Jim James and others. He is the author of the acclaimed essay and oral history collection Something’s Rising (co-written with bestselling novelist Silas House), which was hailed by the late Studs Terkel as “a revelatory work” for its unflinching look at mountaintop removal coal mining through the eyes of thirteen environmental activists.

Howard’s essays, features, and commentary have appeared in publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Oxford American, Salon, The Nation, The Millions, Utne Reader, Sojourners and ​Paste, on C-SPAN’s Book TV and NPR, and in a variety of anthologies. While serving as former senior editor and staff writer for Equal Justice Magazine, Howard reported on the efforts of Eastern Kentucky miners to receive black lung benefits, assisted adoption cases in Manhattan, the struggles of Black South Carolinians to preserve heirs’ property and an eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court. As an arts and culture writer, he has interviewed writers and musicians including Jeff Chu, Garth Greenwell, Patty Griffin, Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius), bell hooks, Ashley Judd, Naomi Judd, Maurice Manning, Yoko Ono, Margaret Renkl, Carly Simon, Lee Smith and Dwight Yoakam.

Howard is editor of Appalachian Review, a literary quarterly based at Berea College, where he teaches and directs the creative writing program. He serves on the faculty of Spalding University’s Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing and holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MA in History from the University of Kentucky and a BA in Political Communication from The George Washington University.

His work often engages themes of history and politics, popular culture, sexuality, female iconography, and the intersection of place and identity. A street haunter in the tradition of Virginia Woolf, he has an enduring love of walking, tea, dogs, rivers, trains, cardigans, hot water bottles, live music, Washington D.C., English history and Anne Boleyn.


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