A question that has arisen in recent months is “What does it mean to be Authentically Alleghany?” A more specific variation of that question is, “Who is Authentically Alleghany?” It is a question worth considering. After all, if having multi-generational ties to Alleghany County is the criteria, many would be left out. If it means being employed in a narrow set of vocations or only enjoying certain hobbies, another group would be excluded from being “Authentically Alleghany.” Perhaps the girl behind an image can give us a clue to the inclusiveness of “Authentically Alleghany.”
Lenke Pasley is the model for the young girl playing the fiddle on the block print by Troutdale, Virginia artist Ellie Kirby. The print was one of five that set out to visually capture the essence Alleghany County.
Lenke is a 7th grade student at Sparta Elementary School. She is also a four year fiddle student of the Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musician program and has competed in the Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention. But, Lenke is more than a fiddle player: she enjoys acting and frequents the stage in regional theater productions. She can also be found many Tuesday nights, line dancing at the Alleghany Jubilee. While some of those things seem to reinforce an Appalachian stereotype, we have to look a bit deeper to get a better understanding of the diversity of Lenke Pasley.
Lenke’s parents are Lucas and Iboya Pasley. Lucas is an accomplished musician and English teacher at Alleghany High School. Combining those two interests, he has chronicled much of the musical history of Alleghany County. Iboya is a native of the Netherlands who found her way to this area while working as an intern with Merlefest. The family has traveled internationally, giving all the children, including Lenke, a view of life well beyond the Alleghany County line.
It is a bit difficult to truly define and describe Lenke Pasley. She plays the fiddle and enjoys theater. Her family has deep ties to Alleghany County and equally strong connections to Europe. Her parents speak English and Dutch. She embodies a unique combination of both the old and new elements of our community. When all those things are taken together, Lenke is literally the model for what it means to be Authentically Alleghany.