Morehead State University empowers students to pursue their passion for the arts and find success in several career fields. In 2021, MSU faculty and alumni are not just attaining success, they are earning awards and gaining recognition for their contributions and dedication. 

This year, several Morehead State University faculty and alumni were among the award recipients of the 2021 Appalachian Arts and Entertainment Awards.   

MSU faculty and alumni award winners include:   

  • Best Music Educator – Dr. Roosevelt Escalante, associate music professor and assistant director of choral activities  
  • Best Drama, Speech, Acting Educator – Octavia Biggs (Class of 1987), director of The Little Company   
  • Best Keyboardist – Chase Lewis (alumnus), keyboardist for Tyler Childers and the Food Stamps   
  • Best Strings (Non-Guitar/Bass) – Megan Bryant (Class of 2010)   
  • Best Rock – Magnolia Boulevard (featuring keyboardist Ryan Allen, Class of 2014)   
  • Best Television Personality – Amber Philpott (Class of 2003), news anchor with WKYT in Lexington   
  • Best Bassist – JT Cure (Class of 2003), bass player for Chris Stapleton   
  • Best Middle School Band – Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, Lexington, Kentucky (assistant band director Kevin R. Bowling, Class of 1999)  
  • Best High School Band – Pike County Central High School Band (band director Matt Moon, Class of 2003 and 2009

Morehead State University was also well represented at the 2021 Kentucky Music Education Association’s (KMEA) annual awards. MSU Music Education Professor And Director Of Choral Studies Dr. Greg Detweiler, and Aaron Bowling (Class of 2001, 2005), music education specialist for Boyd County Public Schools and MSU music program alumnus, each received honors from KMEA.    

Detweiler was recognized for his 40 years of service to the music education profession and Bowling was recognized as the 2021 KMEA State High School Teacher of the Year.  

Detweiler held multiple positions as director of choral activities, including at Albertson College, Idaho State University, Southeastern Louisiana University and Mercer University before becoming the director of choral activities at MSU. He has taught at MSU for more than 13 years and his choirs have toured and presented concerts in Austria, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Canada.    

“Each year, I go to our Kentucky state music convention. Invariably, I see a former MSU student who stops me and tells me with tears in their eyes how the international tour they went on impacted them. I am so glad MSU has allowed me to pass on my treasured memories and give our students special moments to remember throughout their lives,” Detweiler said. “It is hard to believe that after 40 years of teaching music, I am still excited about the next day of work, the next rehearsal and the next class. There is no greater joy for me than working with students on music. I keep learning and growing and passing on new ideas to those with which I am privileged to teach.”   

Aaron Bowling, a native of Hazard, graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in music education in 2001 and a Master of Music degree in 2005. He served as an elementary music teacher for Cattletsburg Elementary School from 2007 to 2016. In 2014, he took positions as director of choral activities and guitar at Boyd County High School since 2014 and has served as the choir director/worship leader at Wildwood Church of God since 2006.    

Bowling said he sang in the MSU Concert Choir, MSU Chamber Singers, OperaWorks and University Chorus. He said Detweiler was a mentor and continues to give him guidance and support to this day.   

“I was awarded the KMEA District 8 High School Teacher of the Year in September of 2020. Following that award, Dr. Detweiler nominated me for the State KMEA High School Teacher of the Year,” Bowling said. “I hope those around me have seen my students as young people who value high expectations, high character and seek responsibility as part of their success. Not only do they desire to sing or play skillfully, but they wish to enrich the lives of everyone with which they come into contact.”   

To learn more about programs in MSU’s Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, visit