Everybody Loves Maako
“Everybody Loves Maako” is a 15-minute documentary about a classical violinist from Tokyo, Japan, who earns her master’s degree in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. In the process, she learns to be an Old Time music fiddler, mostly while she is secluded in her Boone cottage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Produced and directed by Yndiana Montes Fogelquist, the documentary features Maako playing at informal jams during the Appalachian Studies Association conference, AppalachiaFest 2022, with some renowned Old Time musicians.
Her mentor Cecil Gurganus teaches her Old Time fiddle tunes that she learns by ear. Cecil is a respected folk musician who has played with the elders of traditional Appalachian music, like guitarist and singer Doc Watson and fiddler Ora Watson.
As a classical musician who moved from Japan in 2019, Maako, in her role of graduate student, shares her ethnography working with Gurganus at the AppalachiaFest conference at West Virginia University in 2022.
The documentary also shows Maako’s graduation with honors in May 2022 from the Center for Appalachian Studies. On this special occasion, Dr. Sandy Ballard of Appalachian Journal praises her trajectory in the graduate program, especially during the pandemic.
Yndiana also meets Maako’s husband, mother, and friends at this significant moment of her life in Boone. Maako then moves to Durham and starts a new life with her husband and new baby girl Emma while she works on her Musicology PhD at Duke University. Maako is shown returning to Boone to play fiddle with her mentor and friends.
Diversity is important to me because I’m a naturalized American originally from Venezuela. As a result of my multicultural background, I have pursued a more inclusive approach to education at Appalachian State University. Even though Maako Shiratori and I are from very different cultural backgrounds and I am not a musician, I’m in tune with her through our learned appreciation of Appalachian culture and its music. From the beginning, I admire not only her achievements but also her way of relating to all people, whether they are students, faculty, musicians in general or regular folks.
To follow her around, to see her embracing her doctoral studies has been a joy. I hope that with this documentary, audiences get to know her and understand better that for a “stranger” it is fundamental to love and respect the place that is giving you the opportunity to start over. What I have found is that even resistance from some can be overcomed and cultural barriers can be broken by artistic expression in any of its forms.