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Michael Kernahan

Florida Folklife asked our artists a series of questions to learn more about their traditions and how those traditions have impacted their lives and the lives of those around them. Take a look at the answers we got from Michael Kernahan below.Photo of Michael Kernahan making a steel pan drum


What folk tradition(s) or traditional art(s) do you practice?

The traditional art I practice is the: building, tuning, performing, teaching steel pan/drums and steelband music.

How did you learn those traditions?

I learned this tradition while growing up in Trinidad and Tobago where it was common and very infectious. It was very difficult to resist being part of the tradition.

Why is it important to maintain folk traditions?

It is very important to maintain this folk art because it has become a very popular art form here in the United States and there is a great demand for persons to continue and maintain the tradition.

How did you first get involved with the Florida Folklife Program?

I got involved with Florida Folklife through Dr. Stephen Stuempfle and Dr. Tina Bucuvalas at the Miami historical museum.

What Florida Folklife Program projects have you participated in and/or what folklife awards or benefits have you received?

The Folklife Apprentice Program gave an opportunity to teach two apprentices and the end result. I am very proud to receive a Florida Folk Heritage Award in 2005 which gave status to my art form.