Marion woman is award-winning dulcimer recording artist

MARION — While browsing in an arts and crafts store, a Marion woman was attracted by the music she heard playing in the background. She inquired and learned that the delightful sound came from the hammered dulcimer.

She bought a recording, fell in love with the music and the hammered dulcimer has been a part of Pam Bowman’s life from that day, more than 20 years ago.

The name dulcimer means “sweet tune.” Captivated, Bowman determined to purchase an instrument and produce her own sweet sounds.

During the next several years, she learned basic playing techniques by attending monthly meetings of a local dulcimer club and enhanced her skill at numerous workshops offered at the annual dulcimer festival held in Evart.

To welcome a baby into her family, Bowman decided to record a collection of lullabies and gentle music for infants. Intended initially for family use only, the music soon caught the attention of others and the soft and soothing melodies became the first recording she offered for sale.

That was the beginning of a recording career which now totals eight compact discs.

Musical talent comes naturally to Bowman who was raised in a musical family. Her father played the guitar and was a vocalist on the radio. Her mother played the piano and sang as well.

“I am blessed to come from a musical family and I give glory to God for leading me to the dulcimer,” she said. “I never expected to play and perform, but I’m glad it happened and glad people enjoy it.

“My playing is part of my ministry. I love it when people come up to me and tell me that my playing has touched their emotions.”

Bowman was born and raised in Marion. Following graduation from Marion High School she attended Central Michigan University where she earned a cachelor of science in education degree. She taught in a preschool program at Marion Elementary School for six years.

Currently she lives with her husband, Todd, on the homestead where she grew up. They have one daughter who attended Marion schools and graduated from Marion High School.

Bowman is also a member of a group of five musicians called Just Jammin’ that has recorded four CDs. The CDs showcase vocal and instrumental arrangements of gospel and bluegrass selections featuring the guitar, mandolin, stand-up bass and hammered dulcimer. Titles include “Makin’ Memories” and “It’s about Time.”

The busy musician finds time to pass on her skills to others. She teaches private dulcimer, mountain dulcimer and guitar lessons to adults and children in her home and conducts group dulcimer classes in Big Rapids. She and fellow musicians make numerous appearances performing at festivals, churches, parties and special events.

Bowman, who took first place at the Southern Regional Hammered Dulcimer solo competition in Arkansas, doesn’t rest on her laurels.

She has set new goals for herself which include composing original music, taking her own playing skills to the next level, and raising awareness of the beauty and artistry of hammered dulcimer music in her community.

Bowman and the Just Jammin’ group will perform at the 42nd annual Original Dulcimer Players Club funfest at the Osceola County fairgrounds in Evart on Friday evening, July 18.

Four CDs were produced and recorded in the studio of guitar player and fellow musician Jeff Gardner of Evart. Titles include “Hammered Hallelujahs!” and “Hammered Hoot-N-Nanny.”

The instrumental CDs, which all feature the hammered dulcimer along with a variety of accompanying instruments, include gospel and Christmas music and a mix of swing, country, bluegrass and other favorites.

Her CDs are sold at Flemmings Clothing on Main Street in Marion or can be purchased directly from the artist.

To contact Bowman about scheduling an appearance, to purchase CDs or to learn more about lessons, call her at (231) 743-6639 or email pambowmanmusic@gmail.com.