Ivy Leaf - Spring 2010

Jerry Zolten


Educator, author, musician, music producer, and American roots music and popular culture guru Jerry Zolten received the spring 2010 Kjell Meling Award for Distinction in the Arts and Humanities.

An associate professor of communication arts and sciences, Zolten's courses include the art of communication, the cultural roots of rock 'n' roll, and stand-up comedy as social history. In addition to two textbooks, numerous articles, and CD liner notes, he is the author of the award-winning book Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds/Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music. Zolten also has produced two CDs, Wreckin' the House and Beautiful Stars and is the co-producer, writer, and host of several nationally syndicated public radio program specials, including "Chimpin' the Blues," "Boppin' with Pekar," and "In the Spirit," a history of African American Gospel.

His latest published work is a chapter, "The Beatles as Recording Artists," in the The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Zolten is currently developing several projects including a book about African-American preachers on phonograph records during the depression era, an authorized biography of the Blind Boys of Alabama, and a documentary film about the Jewish community in an industrialized Western Pennsylvania town in the 1960s.

Penn State Altoona initiated the Meling Award in 2006 to honor the memory of its longtime associate dean for Academic Affairs, who passed away in 2005. The award is intended to memorialize Meling's love of literature and language and his unwavering support as an administrator for the development of Penn State Altoona's faculty as scholars and artists.