Tim has been recording and documenting artists since the early age of 16, when he became interested in ethnomusicology. After earning a BA from Friends World College and MA from the Curriculum in Folklore at the UNC, Tim and his wife Denise founded Music Maker in 1994 to assist traditional musicians in need. Tim works very closely with partner artists on a daily basis while also overseeing program operations. For his work with Music Maker, Tim was recognized by ABC Evening News as the “Person of the Week” in April 2004 and was voted Living Blues Producer of the Year in 1999. Tim has also received honors from National Resophonic Guitars and the NC Folklore Society. Since Music Maker’s founding he has produced more than 151 albums, produced two films, and has presented dozens of traditional Southern musicians at prestigious venues around the world.
Denise has a BA from Hampshire College and joined husband Tim in managing Music Maker after leaving a successful career in the fashion industry. Denise’s business experience is invaluable to Music Maker as she wears many hats within the organization – she is responsible for operations, financial management, government compliance, and strategic planning. Denise finds bringing people of diverse backgrounds together in musical celebration the most rewarding aspect of her work at Music Maker. She finds inspiration in these bold senior artists launching new careers and blazing new trails around the globe. She and Tim have two children.
Aaron joined Music Maker in 2011 and has enjoyed doing everything from booking performances, album production, managing intern projects, overseeing the audio and photo archive, to processing artist grant requests. Before joining Music Maker, Aaron founded the community outreach and workshops program at High Strung Violins and Guitars in Durham, North Carolina. In 2004 he spearheaded the multimedia arm of Daylight Community Arts Foundation, a non-profit documentary photography foundation. He has a BA in fine art photography from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Brittany received her BA from Elon University in Human Services & Sociology and her Master of Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill. Brittany has been working in the human services field for eight years and is passionate about connecting people to the resources they need. Brittany’s mission is to rewrite the common narrative shared among the masses about marginalized and oppressed communities. Brittany will work part time with Music Maker musicians to connect them with services that will allow them to improve their overall quality of life.
Originally from Boston, Karen handles development at Music Maker. Before joining Music Maker, she worked in education and public programming for a variety of arts and culture organizations in both Boston and Philadelphia. She holds a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University and is finishing her M.S. in arts administration at Drexel University.
Hailing from Chicago, Cornelius has a B.S. in Sustainable Development & Agroecology from Appalachian State University. He met Tim at the Hoppin’ John Fiddlers Convention in 2012 and began part-time at Music Maker shortly thereafter. Cornelius’ position evolved over time and he now handles Music Maker’s communications. His passion for filmmaking has led to the creation of 80 videos for Music Maker.
A native of Ocala, FL, Natalie holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from LSU with a concentration in Violin Performance and Arts Administration, an MMA from Valdosta State University (Violin Performance), and an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida (Violin Performance and Mandarin-Chinese). In addition to her performance aspirations, Dr. Chang hopes to contribute to a paradigm shift in arts participation and public access to the arts through the conduit of her artistic voice and activism. Her goal with Music Maker is to cultivate collaborative and inspiring relationships with constituents and beneficiaries of the arts community as a vital component of achieving Music Maker’s mission.
Born and raised in Dyersburg, TN, Jed graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a B.A. in the Humanities. While in New Haven, he studied ethnographic theory and fieldwork, with a focus on musicology in the Southern U.S. His other studies included the history of the American South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era. Jed learned about Music Maker while researching summer opportunities for studying blues and folk music, and he joined Music Maker as an intern in the summer of 2017. After completing his thesis on the historical relationship between academic folklore and commercial blues in the U.S., Jed returned to Music Maker with the intention of working closely with its partner artists to bridge the gap between popular and institutional appreciation of the blues and folk traditions.
Karen joined our office staff in 2016 after spending 3 years as a volunteer with us. Karen holds a BA degree and comes to us after many years’ experience as a business manager with an Atlanta sound studio. She is also a founder of a small business supporting self-taught visual artists. As our finance coordinator, Karen works part-time handling accounts payable and receivable, and maintaining financial records.
With 3 decades as drummer, musical directer and award winning producer for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, this veteran has performed the most prestigious venues around the globe proving ‘the more you give, the more you get!’
Since the late 1970s Axel Kustner has steadfastly documented every country blues artist he could find. Through over 30 trips to the American South from his native Germany, Axel has rescued many great musicians from total obscurity. His images can be found throughout the pages of this website, in Music Maker album artwork and in collections around the world.
Mark Austin was born in High Point, North Carolina, in 1952. He began working as a photographer at age seventeen. At twenty-five he went to sea, taking along his Leica and documenting the lives of commercial fisherman of the East Coast and Alaska. Austin’s photographs of blues musicians have appeared in Bikini, Esquire, Living Blues and Rolling Stone. Learn more about Mark Austin’s Photography here.