In the Folk Alley MEMBER Spotlight: Chris and Sharie Stranathan

Our 2024 Spring Fund Drive is underway! Are you a member? SHOULD you be a member? Well, if you listen to Folk Alley and if you appreciate the unique mix of music you hear, 24/7, the answer is a resounding yes. Please donate today!

This spring, we wanted to spend some time honoring the people who make Folk Alley possible: our generous members! Members have been supporting Folk Alley with voluntary financial contributions since we first started streaming back in 2003. We rely on the support of our members, many of whom have been supporters from the very beginning.

All month long, you’ll get to know some of Folk Alley’s most devoted members. We’re so glad to have the chance to shine a spotlight on the folks who really matter — our members, who make Folk Alley possible for all of us!

This week, get to know Chris and Sharie Stranathan!

Where do you listen to Folk Alley and how did you discover it?

C&SS: We listen to Folk Alley through the internet in our home in Lyndonville, Vermont. We used to listen via WKSU when we lived in Northeast Ohio but we have been in Vermont since 2015. Unfortunately, since Sharie has had progressive deafness to the point that her hearing aids only enable her to make out conversation (music now just sounds like noise to her) she has not been able to enjoy Folk Alley like I do. I listen to Folk Alley whenever I am home working on the computer or doing stuff around the house. I have the app on my phone and will occasionally put it on while I am completing my charts at work (I am a physician practicing hospital medicine in St. Johnsbury, Vermont)…I usually have time at the end of my day to complete my charts and will listen to Folk Alley to unwind.

How long have you been listening to folk music — and what do you love about it?

C&SS: What I love about listening to Folk Alley is I appreciate the perspective that the hosts bring to folk music. I love how Folk Alley mixes a blend of new artists but still remembers the artists who pioneered folk music. I enjoy hearing old tunes but also love hearing world music and from new artists. I enjoy the in depth interviews and the new album reviews. I think either Woodie Guthrie or Pete Seeger said, if folks sing it then it is folk music. Folk Alley keeps that spirit alive by providing an outlet for artists of all aspect of folk music from country, Americana, roots music, blue grass, indie, and world music. Folk music brings us together and connects artists to their listeners.

Sharie and I have been financial supporters since 2004, shortly after Folk Alley was created in 2003. Sharie began listening to Jim Blum (former WKSU and Folk Alley host) when he just had a show on weekend mornings. She became a fan of his and enjoyed the folk music he played. It reminded her of the country music she grew up listening to and she has always enjoyed the likes of John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary and Judy Collins. Sharie and I married in 1988 and she introduced me to WKSU. We became supporters after I got out of residency and fellowship training and we returned to NE Ohio in 1994. We started supporting WKSU and looked forward to our weekends so we could listen to a whole weekend of Jim playing folk music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Through Jim, we were introduced to an artist community in N.E. Ohio and regularly attended concerts at The Kent Stage, Blossom Music Center, and attended The Kent State Folk Festival.

We are so grateful to the world of folk music that Jim Blum and now Folk Alley has introduced to us. I know that Sharie will always have the memories of the many concerts we shared and the many hours we spent on the weekends listening to folk music through WKSU.

If you were trying to convince someone to support Folk Alley as a new member, what would you say?

C&SS: We choose to support Folk Alley because we believe that a community’s heart and soul are found in its expression of art and music and by providing support to Folk Alley we are supporting that connection of communities to their musical artists.

We would encourage anyone who loves music to support Folk Alley because Folk Alley keeps a strong connection between listeners and musical artists and does so without regard to a listener’s ability to pay for a service. We hope that those who can afford to donate will do so.

As the saying goes: many hands make light work.


See below for some of Chris and Sharie’s favorite songs! Chris says: “Choosing just a few songs is very difficult; we have heard so many artists and we love them all. Each one has been some part of our journey through folk music. So here goes!”

“When the Land Belonged to God” — Jack Gladstone

“This song is about an artist, Charles Russell, who painted the Montana and Dakota plains during the late 1800’s depicting the Native Americans and buffalo; this is especially meaningful to us because of our friendship with Edwin George, a Cherokee artist. I had the honor of being his physician and friend and met him during our time in Kent, Ohio. We have some of his original paintings and one of his murals has been reproduced on the side of one of the buildings in downtown Kent.”

“Crossing the Bar” — Rani Arbo and Salamander Crossing

“Salamander Crossing no longer exists but Rani formed a new group, Daisy Mayhem. This song was derived from a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson; we played this at my mother’s funeral and I still get teary when I hear it.”

“Rebecca’s Lament” and “Wait for the Turn of the Wheel” — James Keelaghan

“There are so many of James’ songs we love that it is hard to pick out one; Sharie especially loves ‘Rebecca’s Lament,’ which is a song of forlorn love between a white woman named Rebecca Galloway and Tecumseh based on a story told by Pierre Berton in Invasion of Canada. So many of Mr. Keelaghan’s songs are based on historical figures, stories or personal experiences. He is a true troubadour.

My favorite Keelaghan song is ‘Wait for the Turn of the Wheel,’ a song about change in society. It reminds me that while it may take time for justice and change to occur, ultimately justice will prevail.”

“Song for a Winter’s Night” — Gordon Lightfoot

“After Sharie and I got together we were amazed at how many albums we had that were duplicates of Gordon Lightfoot. We had the pleasure of seeing him twice…he is perhaps the most prolific folk writer of our lifetime. May he rest in peace.”

“You’re Everything I Wanted Love to Be” and “This Beggar’s Heart” — Darrell Scott

“Sharie’s favorite is ‘You’re Everything I Wanted Love to Be.’ This song expresses her feelings about our marriage. My favorite Darrell Scott song is ‘This Beggar’s Heart,’ which aired on the Hands Across the Water album which came out in 2004 and was a collection of songs by many famous artists in response to the tsunami that killed so many in the Phillipines and Indonesia.”

“Take Me Home Country Roads” — John Denver

“Like Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver has been responsible for so many great songs recorded by himself and songs he wrote for other artists. Sharie and I are both longtime fans of John’s and we will never forget the October when he died.”

“If I Could Change One Thing” — Crystal Bowersox, Seth Glier

“Crystal rose to fame on American Idol when we were living in Port Clinton, Ohio just before we moved to Vermont. She was a local girl from Oak Harbor, Ohio and a local favorite. She has a dynamic personality and she sings about people and she sings with a cause…My favorite is one she and Seth Glier did together titled ‘If I Could Change One Thing.’ It is such a beautiful duet by two wonderful young artists.”

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