Kentucky Bluegrass Fixture Dies

Sandy Knipp, 62, of Morehead, KY, a tenacious bluegrass and traditional music ambassador, longtime Bluegrass radio host, musician and songwriter, died Wednesday at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.Funeral services will be conducted Saturday.    Knipp, a retired public school educator in Rowan County, was the founding director of Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music.

He was the host of “Bluegrass Diversion” on Morehead State Public Radio for more than 20 years.  Knipp received MSU’s Appalachian Treasure Award in 2002 for his lifetime commitment to Bluegrass music and music education.

Knipp had for years battled a kidney disease known as IgA nephropathy. His death came within a year after he had received a donor kidney from his daughter.

As a musican, Knipp was proficient on guitar, banjo and bass. Through the years, he played and sang in numerous and varied groups, including Bear Creek, The Touch of Grass and White Horse String Band. 
His radio program “Bluegrass Diversion,” aired Saturday mornings on WMKY-FM. His signature phrase was “Smile, sunshine is good for your teeth — and so is bluegrass music.”

Knipp was also  a songwriter whose songs have been recorded and performed by the likes of;  Don Rigsby, the Bluegrass Strangers, Scott Tackett and Kentucky Sunrise, Goldwing Express and Darvin Sturgill.  He was also a sketch artist, woodworker, gardener, a poet and author and recently published a volume entitled “Set Another Place at the Table”.

He was passionate about preserving the culture and promoting Bluegrass music abd always fostered local talent and promoted rising artists. The first director of MSU’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, Sandy was instrumental in its creation.

Sandy Knipp is survived by his wife, the former Deborah Maple, and several other family members.  Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Johnson First Church of God in Rowan County, KY. Visitation will be after 3 p.m. today at Northcutt & Son Home for Funerals and after 1 p.m. Saturday at the church.

Memorial contributions are suggested to Johnson First Church of God Youth Group, 590 Cranston Road, Morehead, KY 40351.

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