North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame Inductees
1922 - 1987 Howard "Howdy" Forrester was a native of Hickman County, Tennessee. His father was a fiddler as was his grandfather and an uncle. Howdy started playing fiddle at the age of 8. His professional career began in 1938 with Harold Goodman's Tennessee Valley Boys. In 1940 He left the Goodman Band and joined "The Texas Roundup" in Dallas, Texas. After a tour of duty in the armed services during World War II, Howdy worked with Bill Monroe, Cowboy Copas, Jamup & Honey and Uncle Dave Macon. In 1951 he became a member of Roy Acuff's "Smokey Mountain Boys." The highlight of many Opry listeners was Howdy's breakdown during Acuff's portion of the Opry. Howdy was also head of the Acuff-Rose Talent Booking Bureau.
1905 - 1975 Bob wills was born into one of Texas' most renowned fiddling families. Both of his grandfathers were fiddlers, as were 9 of his uncles and 5 of his aunts. His father, John wills, was a frequent finalist at Texas fiddle contests, where he defeated the legendary Eck Robertson on several occasions. Wills learned typical old-time fiddle music from his family. They also played ragtime and cowboy sings in the distinctive Texas longbow style. Bob first played fiddle, in a band, at the age of 10, when his father failed to show up. He went on to later form his famous "Texas Playboys" and recorded many of today's standards. He wrote many of these himself, including, "San Antonio Rose," "Spanish Two Step" and "Faded Love."
1909 - 1973 Don Messer was born in 1909 in Tweedside, New Brunswick. At the age of 7 he played at a barn dance and continued to play jigs and reels until at 16 he devoted himself to the serious study of violin in Boston. In 1930 he returned to New Brunswick and formed "The Backwoods Trio." He later organized an 8-piece orchestra called "The New Brunswick Lumberjacks." In 1938 he formed "The Backwoods Breakdown." In 1939 he started his old-time orchestra "The Islanders" and also began making records. In 1955 Don Messer and his Islanders began a weekly Television show. In 1959 his show was a summer replacement for "Country Hoedown" seen from coast to coast. It was such a hit that they asked him to stay. Thus came about the "Don Messer's Jubilee."
1927- 1974 Johnny Mooring, who died tragically in April, 1974, was the only fiddler in the long history of the North American Fiddling Championship to win the title 3 years in a row. 1964, 1965 and 1966 saw Johnny sweep to victory over stiff competition, an achievement which will be hard to equal. Johnny has toured Canada and the U.S.A. and played with such notable personalities as Don Messer, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Tommy Hunter, The Rhythm Pals, Hank Snow and Eddy Arnold. Born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, May 17, 1927, Johnny was a prolific composer of fiddle tunes. He also played for the Lt. Governor of Ontario, the Honorable Earl Rowe, and earned a place for himself in the Honour Roll of Great Canadian Fiddlers. Johnny Mooring died March 28, 1974.
1931 - 2019 Rudy Meeks has had music bred right into him, for on both sides of his family the fiddle reined supreme. In fact, his dad was considered one of the best old time fiddlers around. His brother Bill also achieved this distinction. Born in the beautiful Muskokas, Rudy has been drawing the bow across the strings of a fiddle since the age of 7. Rudy says it was his father who encouraged and taught him to play the fiddle. Later living in Orilla he and his band played for many dances and other functions near and far afield. Rudy has played the Wheeling Jamboree and The Grand Ole Opry. Rudy has won most all the highly recognized fiddle contests in Ontario and went on to win the North American Old Time Fiddle Championship in 1972. He passed away July 29, 2019 at the age of 88 years.
1942 - 1998 Graham Townsend was born June 16, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario. He started playing at dances at the age of 9 and at the age of 11 he placed 3rd in the Open Fiddle Championship at Shelburne, Ontario and went on to win this competition five times. Graham has done two Royal Command performances for H. M. Queen Elizabeth. He appeared in the film "Beautiful Dreamers" with Rip Torn. He has traveled and toured in 12 countries, performed with such notables as Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, Tommy Hunter, Don Messer, Porter Wagoner, Roy Acuff, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and the list could go on and on. He has recorded over 40 albums and has composed over 350 songs. His wife, Eleanor, is also in the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame.
1937 - Edward J. Gyurki was born in Kitchner, Ontario, Canada on December 22, 1937. Ed is a life-long resident of Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Ed has won top honors in almost every major fiddle contest in Ontario. His greatest claim to fame has been winning the "Canadian Open Fiddle Contest” in Shelburne, Ontario, Canada an unprecedented 7 times as well as being in the top three most of the other years he has taken part in the competition. Ed has appeared on such shows as "Country Hoedown," "The Don Messer Show," and "Gemutlichkeit." He has composed many fiddle tunes such as "Oxford County Reel," "Helen's Waltz," "Red Feather Jig," "John Forrest Waltz," "Plowman's Reel," "Mushers Reel," "Ernie's Stomp," and "Homecoming Two-Step."
1926 - Tommy Jackson was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1926. His family moved to Nashville when he was one. He started playing professionally when he was 10 years old, and at 17 was playing regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. For over twenty years he was the premier Nashville studio fiddler and probably played on more records than any fiddler in history. He backed up such stars as Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Grandpa Jones, Tammy Wynette, Red Foley, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Rex Allen, The Delmore Brothers and The York Brothers. Tommy emerged as a star in his own right in the mid-1950's, when his long series of fiddle albums became popular with dancers around the country.
1916 - 1975 Born in Woodridge, Manitoba in 1916, Andy Dejarlis comes from a long line of fiddlers on both sides of his family. His great grandfather was an early settler in the Red River Valley where settlers acquired their fiddles by trading pelts with the fur traders, many of whom came from Scotland; thus was born the Red River Jig and The Red River Style of fiddling. Steeped in this tradition, it is only natural that Andy's "Caribou Reel," "Moccasin Reel," "Whiskey Before Breakfast," "Woodridge Breakdown" (a tune named after his hometown), and many other tunes would bear the stamp of his forefathers. Andy began playing at 15, learning from his father. He has won 19 trophies in all, including the Western Canada and Central America championships. Andy Dejarlis passed away September 18, 1975.
1911 - 2007 On July 5, 1911 in the City of Lachine, Quebec, Canada, Roma Clarke McMillan was born. In 1935 she married Hugh McMillan and moved to Ontario where they farmed until his death in 1974. In 1978 she moved to Ottawa where she held the position of National Secretary of Federated Women's Institutes of Canada. Roma studied the violin and piano from Professor Armand LeDuc of Lachine, Quebec. In 1929 she joined the Montreal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was not until moving to Ottawa that she played old time fiddle music. In 1961 she won her first trophy; she has a total of 45 trophies. Roma has done a great deal of volunteer dance music for senior citizens and intends to keep on doing so as long as possible. Roma McMillan died July 4, 2007.
1954 - Present Craig Duncan is an active Nashville musician who spans the gap of both the country and classical fields. He began playing the violin at the age of 8 and went on to receive a bachelor of music degree from Appalachian State University. He began his professional music career in Charlotte, N.C., where he worked as a fiddler, vocalist and bassist. After moving to Nashville, he worked at Opryland with a group called "Smokey Mountain Sunshine." In 1978 he started working on the Grand Ole Opry with Wilma Lee Cooper. He's also worked with Tom T. Hall, Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner, and Justin Tubb. Craig is also an Artist/Teacher at the Blair School of Music in Nashville. His book "Fiddling Method" is published by Mel Bay Publications.
1944 - 1998 Eleanor Townsend was born January 8, 1944 in Dungannon, Ontario. She studied piano and classical violin from ages 7 to 15. She began studying fiddle music at the age of 18. Her early influences were Al Cherny and Ward Allen. At Shelburne, Eleanor won the Ladies Class in 1967. From 1967 to 1979, she entered and won every major contest in Canada, being the only woman to do so, and in 1979, topped it all by winning the Canadian Open in Shelburne. She also won the Northeastern States Fiddle Contest in Barre, Vermont. Her first recording was made in 1970 as Eleanor Moorehead. She has made many recordings since as Eleanor Townsend. She is married to Graham Townsend, another North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame Inductee. Eleanor Townsend died in Barre, Ontario December 31, 1998.
1900 - 1970 Clayton McMichen was born in 1900 in Allatoona, Georgia. At the age of 11 he learned to play the fiddle from his uncles and his father. In 1913 the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia and Clayton attended his first fiddle contest, winning third place. Around 1918 he organized his first band, along with Lowe Stokes, sometimes called the "Lick The Skillet Band," sometimes the "Old Hometown Band." Later he joined with Riley Puckett, Gid Tannier and Fate Norris and changed the name of the band to "The Skillet Lickers." Lowe Stokes also played with them off and on, as did McMichen's Brother-in-Law, Bert Layne. The Skillet Lickers almost always recorded with three fiddlers, banjo and guitar. Clayton McMichen died in Battletown, Kentucky January 4, 1970.
Johnny grew up on a farm in East Texas, near Tyler, with four musical brothers. At the age of 13, Johnny and his brothers played on KGJB radio in Tyler. After high school he joined the Shelton Brothers in Shreveport, Louisiana. After serving in WWII, Johnny worked with various bands until he joined "Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys" in 1949. In the 1950's he worked on "The Big D Jamboree." For 3 years he had his own show "Johnny Gimble & The Homefolks." He was a member of the "Million Dollar Band" on "Hee Haw" and was on "Nashville Now" and "Austin City Limits." He was voted "Instrumentalist of the Year" by the Country Music Association 4 times, Fiddler of the Year 8 times and won a Grammy in 1994. After more than 50 years he is still "fiddlin' around.
1921 - 2018 Ned Landry was born in 1921 in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. At the age of 10 Ned began teaching himself to play the fiddle. By the time he was 15, he had his first appearance on the Don Messer Radio Show. He had appeared on such TV shows as the Tommy Hunter Show, the Don Messer Show, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb Show, plus many more. He released over 30 recordings with RCA. Ned won the North American Fiddle Championships held in Sherbourne, Ontario,in 1956, 1957, and 1962. He was inducted into the New Brunswick Hall of Fame and the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame. On April 29, 1992, Ned received one of his most prized possessions. He was honoured with the Order of Canada Medal. Ned passed away in 2018 and will be missed by many.
1926 - 2011 Kenny Baker was born in 1926 in the coal mining town of Jenkins, Kentucky. His father and grandfather were both fine fiddlers. Kenny may be the most influential folk violinist of our time. He has composed over a dozen tunes including "High Country," "Washington County," and "First Day in Town." Kenny served in the US Navy before returning to work as a coal mniner. During this time he took up the fiddle in earnest, influenced by Marion Sumner, Chubby wise and Stephane Grappelli. His many years of work with Bill Monroe and Don Gibson brought him a reputation as a great performer and a strict Traditionalist. Kenny talks quietly aobut playing fgrom the heart and says, "I've never heard a player I couldn't learn something from."
Ivan Hicks started out by playing mandolin with his fiddling father, Curtis. He started playing fiddle at age 7 and was the fiddle player for the "Golden Valley Boys." They performed around the Maritimes in the 1950's and 1960's. After Ivan received his B.A. and B.Ed. in the 1960's and his M.Ed. from the University of New Brunswick, Ivan began teaching science while his wife, Vivian was teaching at an elementary school. Ivan recently retired from his teaching career. Ivan has twice won the prestigious Maritime Old-Time Fiddling Contest as well as many other contests. He formed the group "The Maritime Express" in 1979. He presently tours the United State and Canada with his wife Vivian accompanying him on the piano.
1961 - Present Mark O'Connor was born in Seattle, Washington in 1961. He began playing the violin at the age of 11. Within 3 weeks of owning his first violin, Mark was playing square dances, and after only 7 months he was winning fiddle contests at a national level. Mark was National Junior Champion 4 times and also a National Grand Masters Champion. His early influences were Doug Kershaw and his teacher and mentor, Benny Tomasson. Mark incorporates the styles of other fiddlers into his own style; fiddle players such as Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher, Byron Berline, Vassar Clements, Texas Shorty and Kenny Baker. Mark hosted the TV show "American Music Shop" and TNN. He also organized a group of top musicians, "The Nashville Cats."
1915 - 1996 Chubby Wise was one of the most unique fiddle stylists of all time. His influence can be heard in the fiddle work of countless musicians who followed him. Chubby joined Bill Monroe in 1942. After that he spent 16 years with Hank Snow. He spent many years as a backup musician and can be heard on many top artists' recordings such as Roy Clark, Jimmy Dean, Elton Britt, Billy Grammer, and more. He was on several Hank Williams' recordings. Chubby was known as "Mr. Orange Blossom Special" as he was a co-writer of the song. He also was a co-writer of the song "Shenandoah Waltz." He has recorded dozens of fiddle albums. No other instrumentalist could draw the spontaneous response from an audience like Chubby Wise could.
1932 - 1998 Al Cherney was born November 1, 1932 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. His mother's name was Nettie and was from the Ukraine and his father was Peter Cherney. He began his musical career with four and a half years of classical training but when he heard fiddlers like Don Messer and Bob Wills, the desire to play fiddle music began. He played two years for the Tommy Hunter Radio Show, two years with the Country Hoedown TV show and twenty years with the Tommy Hunter TV Show. His favorite fiddlers were Scotty Fitzgerald, Chubby Wise, Howdy Forrester and Don Messer. In 1960, Al won the North American Open Championship and the Novelty Class at Shelburne, Ontario. He has composed about 20 tunes of which "The Shannon Waltz" was his favorite. Al Cherny passed away August 25, 1989
1898 - Fiddlin' Arthur Smith was born in Humphreys County, Tennessee in 1898. Arthur started on the Grand Ole Opry in 1927 but didn't record anything until 1935 when he was 37 years old. He formed the "Dixieliners" with Sam and Kirk McGee in 1932. In 1935 he teamed up with the Delmore Brothers recording as the "Arthur Smith Trio." They enjoyed a string of hits such as "Walking in my Sleep," "Beautiful Brown Eyes," and "Love Letters in the Sand." He was a member of the Jimmy Wakley show from 1946-1949 and appeared in several films with him. Arthur composed may tunes such as "Florida Blues," "I've Had A Big Time Today," "Peacock Rag," "Smith's Rag" and "Red Apple Rag."
1920-2019. Matilda Kelly Murdoch lived all of her near Loggieville, New Brunswick, Canada. At 8 years of age her father bought her a fiddle. The first tune she learned on her own was "Little Brown Jug." At 12 she gave her first concert. At 16 she had her first lessons from Mrs. John Gray in Chatham. In the early 1950's Matilda started composing tunes. Her first composition was "Swallow Return Clog." Other compositions are "David's Jig," "Napadogen Reel," "One for Francis" and "Loggieville Two Step." One of the highlights of her fiddling career was her friendship with Don Messer. She later appeared on his television show and he recorded two of her tunes. Matilda recorded two of her own albums featuring her own compositions. In addition to being inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame, Matilda was also inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2002, she received the EMCA Stompin' Tom Connors Award for lifetime avhievement in music. Matilda Murdoch passed away on February 2nd, 2019, just three days after her 99th birthday.
1896 - 1975 Clark Kessinger is well-known among the devotees of old-time country music. A selftaught musician, Clark took up the fiddle at the age of 5, and was playing at dances before the age of 10. He had his nephew, Luches Kessinger, began playing together about 1919, and by 1926, had their own radio show. Between 1928 and 1930 they recorded over 70 sides for Brunswick Records as the Kessinger Brothers. All these recordings were instrumentals with violin and guitar only. In 1964 he was rediscovered and was taken to the Old Time Fiddler's Convention, where he won first prize. Two weeks later he took first place at the Galex Old-Time Fiddlers' Convention.
1938 - Buddy Spicher was born July 28, 1938 in Western Pennsylvania. In the mid 50's he played on the Wheeling Jamboree and in 1956 moved to Nashville, Tennessee to travel with such artists as Ray Price, Faron Young, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce and others. In 1961 he moved to Las Vegas to play with the Judy Lynn Band. In 1963 he returned to Nashville to become a studio musician and backup artist. He has recorded with Dottie West, Elvis Presley, John Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Ray Price, Boxcar Willie, Hank Williams, Jr., Bill Monroe, Charlie Pride and many more, too numerous to mention. Buddy played one year with the Nashville Symphony. Known as "The Jascha Heifitz of Country Music," he's been one of the most in-demand studio musicians for 3 decades.
1922 - Ward Allen was born in 1922 in Kirkton, Ontario, Canada and raised in Southwestern Ontario. His uncles and grandfathers on both sides and his 4 brothers all played the fiddle. At the age of 12 his older brother, Lorne, would take him on dance dates where they would play twin fiddles. In 1952 and 1953 Ward won the Western Ontario Fiddling Championship, and in 1953 he also won the Canadian Open Championship at Shelburne, Ontario. In 1954-1956 he toured Canada with Wilf Carter. Ward also appeared on many TV shows such as Don Messer, King Ghannam and Tommy Hunter. Ward wrote many old time fiddle tunes. The most famous, "Maple Sugar," got him into the Canada Yearbook, the BMI Merit of Honour and into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame.
Alice Colvin Clemens
1915 - 1999 After many years of dreaming of a fiddlers hall of fame, Alice Clemens' dream finally became a reality. In 1976 co-founders Alice Clemens, Ray Cronk and Austin Perry established the North American Old Tyme Fiddlers Hall of Fame and Museum Institute. So, in 1976 the first fiddlers were inducted into the Fiddlers Hall of Fame. Bob Wills and Howdy Forrester were the first North American Inductees. Pappy Cast, Alice Clemens, Hal Casey and Art Colvin were the first New York State Inductees. Alice was the first to receive the Ray Cronk Memorial Award, presented to those who have contributed the most to the art of old time fiddling during the past year. Alice has also served on the National Old Tyme Fiddlers Association Board of Directors.
1886 - 1975 A. C. "Eck" Robertson was born in 1887 in Delaney, Arkansas. Eck learned the fiddle from his father, his uncle and his older brother, Quince. In 1907, Eck and his wife Nettie, who played the guitar, piano and mandolin, put together a show of lantern slides depicting local ranches and ranch activities. Eck would dress in cowboy regalia and became known as the "Cowboy Fiddler." Eck says he was the one who started the cowboy dress on the stage as a musician. Eck had the first commercial country music recording in 1923, "Sallie Gooden" and Arkansas Traveler." Eck died in 1975 at the age of 88. Inscribed on his tombstone in Fritch, Texas: "World's Champion Fiddler."
Bill Guest was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and developed an interest in music at an early age, taking violin lessons at age 11. He played for several years at dances in the Halifax area before departing to West Virginia where fiddlers invited him to play. He worked for Doc Williams for two years. Besides fiddle, Bill plays piano, guitar, clarinet and mandolin. Bill has a Bachelor of Music Education degree and taught music for six years in Halifax schools. He played piano for Don Messer's 1971 Tour and was accompanist at Ann Murray's first TV special. He is in constant demand at gatherings where a variety of music is required. Though he loved many instruments, the fiddle ranks in top place with him.
1868 - 1949 Fiddlin' John Carson was born in 1868 on a farm in Fannin County, Georgia. When he was 10 he inherited a fiddle his grandfather had brought over from Ireland. Fiddlin' John Carson is usually represented today as "The Man Who Started the Country Music Boom." His recording of "The Old Hen Cackled and the Rooster's Going to Crow" and "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" was the first country or folk-type recording to be directly marketed to the public and was a tremendous success. Fiddlin' John was 55 when he made is first record and had been fiddling for over 40 years. Fiddlin' John lived to be 81 (he died December 11, 1949), still holding his beloved fiddle.
Roy Acuff's phenomenal success has its roots deeply embedded in his native country of Union County, Tennessee. Roy was the son of a judge who also preached, and his family were mountain people. Roy's early ambition was to play big league baseball, but a major illness stopped that. During his convalescence, Roy's mother bought him a fiddle. By the time he had recuperated, his own fiddle style was developed and he was on his way to becoming "The King of Country Music." Roy's first big hits with "the Grand Ole Opry" were "The Great Speckled Bird" and "The Wabash Cannonball." Since then, Roy's records have sold in the multi-millions. Roy is known far and wide as one of the most popular exponents of American Country Music.
1897 - 1978 Doc Phil Roberts was born April 26, 1897 in Madison County, Kentucky. His name was a bit unusual for a proper name, so people either called him Phil or Doc. In later hears he dropped the "k" in "Dock" because the record companies said that anyone who could play a fiddle that well must be a doctor of some sort. Rolling with the flow was Doc Roberts' style. Along with Arthur Smith and Clayton McMichen, he was one of the most influential fiddlers of the 1925-1935 era. From 1925 to 1934 he recorded over 80 fiddle tunes and played back-up on at least 80 more. His best selling records were "Run Smoke Run," "The Devil in Georgia," "Rocky Mountain Goat" and "I Don't Love Nobody." Doc Roberts died at age 81 August 4, 1978.
1909 - 1984 Benny Thomasson was born April 22, 1909 in Runnels County and raised in Gatesville, Texas. Born into a musical family as one of ten children. His dad, Luke and Uncle Ed were widely known fiddlers. Benny started playing at age 5. When he was 19, Benny entered a contest in Dallas, figuring to be among the top players. When he was not, he needed to do something to get some recognition, so he began to develop his Texas style of playing. Benny was World Champion in 1955, 1956, and 1957, 15 times Texas State Champion, National Fiddle Champion in 1974 and National Senior Fiddle Champion in 1974 and 1979. In addition to being a great fiddler, Benny was a great human being who always had the time to help others with a tune or with encouragement. Benny Tomasson died in Ellis County, Texas.
1885 - James Gideon Tanner was born in Thomas Bridge, near Monroe, Georgia on June 6, 1885. He learned to fiddle at the age of 14, when an uncle died and willed him a fiddle. Gid was a well known fiddler in the Atlanta area, when he was asked to go to New York to make some recordings. Bringing guitarist Riley Puckett along, they made their first records on March 7, 1924. For the next 8 years he recorded primarily with the "Skillet Lickers." Gid's fiddling can be heard on all but a few singing and fiddling were of a rough quality, but he used them to good advantage and could hold his own with the best.
1928 - Benny Martin was born on May 8, 1928 in Sparta, Tennessee. Fiddler Ike Flatt (father of Lester Flatt) was an early influence. Benny began his professional career at the age of 13 with "Big Jeff and Tootsie and the Radio Playboys" in Nashville. Benny's first solo recording was "Me and My Fiddle" in 1946. He also joined "The Grand Ole Opry" that year. In 1947 he joined Bill Monroe's Band. Later Benny went to work with his childhood friend, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, from 1949-1953, recording 15 numbers. He played with such notables as Roy Acuff, Johnny and Jack and Kitty Wells. He was the front act for Elvis Presley on his famous 35 City Tour. Benny is afflicted with a rare speech and vision disease limiting his ability to tour.
1886 - Robert Earl Johnson was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia August 24, 1886. Earl learned to play fiddle from his father and played with his brothers, who both died in 1923. He then played with Fiddlin' John Carson until 1925 when he cut 14 sides for Paramount as the Dixie String Band. In 1927 he gained fame with his band the "Clodhoppers," recording for OKEH Records. No one did more to earn Georgia fiddle music their great reputation than Earl Johnson. In the low part of a tune he was a model of the reliable dance player, but in the high parts he would suddenly go squealing and skidding on and off pitch. It took expertise and exuberance to play like that, it appears he possessed both.
1909 - 2015 Telleta Bourne Atwell was born in Rome, New York. She started playing the fiddle at age 7 and by 12 years of age was playing in an orchestra. Telleta possesses Bachelor and Master's Degrees from Syracuse University. She taught music for 32 years. A highlight of her teaching career was the honor of bringing two of her bands to both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs in New York City. Telleta taught all instruments to her students, however, violin has always been her favorite. She has been a member of the Utica and Syracuse Symphonies and the Sun Coast Symphony in Clearwater, Florida where she has held the first chair violin position as concertmistress. Telleta also is the 1983 New York Inductee into the New York State Fiddlers Hall of Fame.
Lowe Stokes was raised in the country outside of Rome, Georgia. He first learned to play fiddle from his father, but was more influenced by Joe Lee, adapting his style of pulling a long smooth bow with a tendency to keep the strings run down to standard or lower pitch, giving the music a more mellow sound. Lowe played with the "Skillet Lickers," a well known Georgia Fiddle band, sharing lead fiddle with Clayton McMichen. The band recorded 88 sides from 1926 to 1931, using three fiddles, a banjo and a guitar, disbanding when Lowe lost his right hand. Later with a special adaptation to hold his bow he amazingly won first place in the National Fiddle Convention in Atlanta.
1920 - 2014 Herman Johnson was born May 10, 1920 near Sparks, Oklahoma, one of 13 children. His father, grandfather and two uncles were fiddlers. By the age of 8, Herman was fiddling. He has been with many bands such as the "Oklahoma Ragtimers," "The Harmony Boys," "The Melodiers" and then formed his own band with his brother Cecil. Tone, Pitch, Rhythm; always perfect, rarely will any mistake be heard, he is a perfectionist. He is a champion. His home is filled with hundreds of 1st place trophies. He is a member of the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame in Weiser, Idaho and has won the National Fiddlers Championship 5 times, and the Grand Masters Championship in Nashville in 1974. He traveled the U.S. working with others, striving to keep old time fiddling alive. Herman Johnson died January 20, 2014.
1873 - 1947 Joseph Allard was born February 1, 1873 in Woodland, Maine and was raised in the province of Quebec, Canada. He started to play the violin at the age of 9. He returned to the U.S. when he was 16 and for the next 28 years he won fiddle contests in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. In 1917 he settled in Ville Saint-Pierre, where he worked as a fisherman all his life. He won many contests in the Montreal area. He made 75 cuts for Bluebird Records from 1928-1946. His most successful being, "Blind Man's Reel," "Chateaugay Reel," "Jacques Cartier's Reel," and "Traveler's Reel." He was nicknamed "The Fiddlers' Prince" because his bowing was smooth and light and his fingering was matchless. Joseph Allard passed away November 14, 1947.
1889 - 1962 Charlie Thomas Bowman was born July 30, 1889 in Gray Station, Tennessee. Charlie first learned to play a homemade banjo when he was 12. Not long after, he began to "saw on the fiddle." He had 4 brothers and 4 sisters; his brothers each chose a different instrument and "The Bowman Brothers Band" was born. He entered his first fiddle contest in the early 1920's, finishing 2nd behind the Georgia State Champion, Clayton McMichen. Over the next several months he won 28 of 32 contests he entered. He went on to a long distinguished radio and recording career. When asked, "What makes a good fiddler?" he said, "Time and Practice, start on the right foot, learn the tunes correctly, and use all the bow." Charlie Bowman died May 20, 1962.
H. Ralph Blizzard
1918 - 2009 H. Ralph Blizard was born December 5, 1918, in Kingsport, Tennessee. He was greatly influenced by his father, Robert, who played the fiddle and banjo. Also such fiddle greats as Charlie Bowman and Dudley Vance. By the time Ralph graduated from High School, he was playing professionally in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. He retired from Eastman Kodak after 25 years and in 1982 formed his band the New Southern Ramblers. They perform throughout the country and are featured at work shops from Alaska to Florida. Master Fiddler Ralph Blizzard has been playing old-time music as long as he can remember. His unique and beautiful "Appalachian Mountain Longbow" style makes him one of the premier traditional musicians playing today. Ralph Blizard died on December 4, 2009.
D. Paul Warren
1918 - 1978 Dorris Paul Warren was born May 17, 1918 in Lyles, Tennessee, where, as a boy, he would walk for miles to listen to a radio to hear the Grand Ole Opry and Fiddlin' Arthur Smith. He would then go home, slip his daddy's fiddle down and pick out the melody. As time went by, Paul became a Fiddlin' Arthur Smith in overdrive. There was no equal when it came to playing the old time, double stop breakdowns. His intonation & bowing were always accurate. Paul's first professional job came in 1938 with Johnny & Jack & Kitty Wells. His stay was interrupted by military service where he spent 29 months in a German Prisoner of War Camp in 1954, he went to work with Flatt & Scruggs, staying with Lester Flatt after the Flatt & Scruggs breakup. Paul died on Jan. 12, 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee.
1946 - Present Jay Ungar was born in the Bronx, NY on November 14, 1946. He began playing classical violin at age 7 and traditional fiddle tunes at age 16. His main musical mentors have been Bud Snow, John Cohen, Aly Bain, Dewey Balfa, and Junior Daugherty, who along with Evan Stover and Matt Glaser have greatly influenced his fiddling style. His daughter Ruthy Ungar and brother-in-law, James Mason also play the fiddle. Jay won the Hartford Fiddle Contest in the ’70. He has recorded with many bands and currently performs in a duo with his wife Molly Mason and their Family Band with Ruthy and her husband Mike Merenda. Jay has composed many popular fiddle tunes, such as “Round the Horn”, "The Wizard's Walk," “Vladimer’s Steamboat," “The Lovers’ Waltz” (co-written with Molly), and most notably, “Ashokan Farewell,” which is known worldwide and has been recorded by dozens of fiddlers.
Peter Dawson, a native of the Okanagan Valley in South Central British Columbia, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, did not start to play the fiddle until he was the ripe old age of five. From there, he never looked back! In the 1940's and early '50's with his own band, Peter played for dances throughout Southern B.C. and broadcast regular radio shows on CKOV in Kelowna, CJIB in Vernon and CKOK in Penticton. In the early 1950's, he joined a travelling country group making several cross Canada tours. In the mid 1950's, Peter moved to Toronto and played the nightclub circuit plus several TV shows out of Toronto and Hamilton. He appeared several times on the Mainstreet Jamboree out of CHML in Hamilton. Peter was also one of the musicians in the Toronto studio that recorded the original "The French Song" by the famous Canadian, Lucille Starr. He then joined the Wheeling Jamboree at Radio Station WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia as their Staff Fiddler. He travelled the United States and Canada extensively working with many country and bluegrass bands. During this period, he also appeared as back-up musician on the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee. In the early 1960's, Peter returned home to Canada. He then established a music business while continuing composing and recording fiddle music. Peter has recorded a number of albums, going as far back as 1958, several of which are still available. The latest is "Re-Pete Performance" CD, 2004. Others still available include: "For Pete's Sake' CD and cassette, 2001; "Owl in the Henhouse", CD and cassette, 1999; "Star of Calabogie", CD and cassette, 1998; "Peter Dawson Live", cassette; "From the mountains to the sea" (bluegrass) cassette; "Fiddling for Folk", cassette; "The best darn fiddling in the world", cassette; and "Home sweet home", cassette. Peter is the owner and operator of "Peter Dawson Violins Inc." Peter was inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame, Osceola, New York, as of July 2005.
Homer "Pappy" Sherrill
1915 - 2001 Homer “Pappy” Sherrill was born March 23, 1915 in Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina. As a child when he heard music, he would pick up two sticks and rub them together, pretending to play the fiddle. His first professional appearance was in 1928 at the age of 13 on Radio Station WSOC in Gastonia, N.C. He joined Byron Parker’s Hillbillies in 1939, where he played with banjoist Snuffy Jenkins. They teamed up as “The Hired Hands” playing together until 1990. They played at the 1982 World’s Fair, the Chicago Folk Festival, American Folk Festival and Carnegie Hall. He also performed with Jimmy Davis, Tex Ritter, Mel Tillis, and Roger Miller. His original tunes include “CNW Railroad Blues”, “Peanut Special” and “The Cherry Blossom Waltz”. Pappy Sherrill died at age 86, November 30, 2001.
1933 - Present Bobby Hicks was born in Newton, North Carolina in 1933 and started playing fiddle when he was nine years old. He is self taught and was hired by Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe in 1954 to play bass, but switched to fiddle after fiddler Gordon Terry was drafted into the military. Bobby spent the 1960's through the middle 70's in Iowa, Montana, Oregon and Las Vegas. In 1975 he returned home to North Carolina, where he met Ricky Skaggs at Camp Springs, North Carolina. In 1981, Bobby joined the Ricky Skaggs Band, which was one of the hottest country bands of the 1980's and received many, many awards including three time winners of the CMA "Instrumental Group of the Year", three time winners of Music City News "Bluegrass Act of the Year", the five time winners of the Academy of Country Music’s "Touring Band of the Year". The Ricky Skaggs Band transitioned to Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and became an award winning Bluegrass band - twice winning the IBMA and SPBGMA's "Instrumental Group of the Year" in 1999 and 2000. Additionally, they have won GRAMMY awards for Bluegrass Rules!, Ancient Tones, and Soldiers of the Cross. Their newest album, History of the Future was nominated for a Grammy this year as well. In many ways, Bobby has come full circle - back to Bluegrass music where he started years ago. Bluegrass music is enjoying resurgence in popularity not seen since the 1950's. Whether it's teaching young fiddlers or playing a hot fiddle break on stage, Bobby Hicks is a living legend and continues to contribute to the enjoyment of fans everywhere
1932 - 2018 George F. Servey Jr. was born on 12/8/32 in Leatherwood, PA. At the age of fifteen, he sold his bicycle to buy his first fiddle. When he was 18, he played on Andy Burkett’s Saturday Night Jamboree Radio Show on WKRZ in Oil City, PA. George has won numerous champion fiddling contests over the years from 1959 to 2003. He held a concert in Osceola in at the Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame in 2004. George volunteered his time by playing fiddle for two local hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and home bound patients. He has played with many known fiddlers and enjoyed the music of Don Messer, Tommy Jackson, Ivan Hicks, Ernie McDonald, and many more. George retired from Owen-Illinois Glass Plant in Clarion, PA as a blacksmith. You can hear his music on his CD entitled, George Servey: Fiddling Blacksmith. George passed away on November 4, 2018.
1918 - 2000 Peter McMahan was born in 1918 near Bluffton, MO where he started playing fiddle at the age of 6 and won his first fiddle contest at age 15. After returning from the Army of WWII, Peter played in local dance bands. He later competed in national contests and also served as contest judge for several years. Peter has been an instructor for the Missouri Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program and has performed at many festivals including the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folk Life, the National Folk Festival, and the Festival of American Folk Tunes. In 1966, Peter was inducted into the Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame. Peter's motto is: "You're not playing fiddle unless you make people want to dance." Peter McMahan died February 11, 2000.
1918 - 2012 Dick Barrett was born in Maysville, Oklahoma on August 6, 1918. As a young child , his family lived in Quail, Texas. Dick’s father and grandfather were fiddlers and many of his family members played music. When he was six, his father started to encourage him to play music. Major Franklin was a fiddler who really motivated Dick to work at playing the fiddle. I kept learning a little on the fiddle, and the guitar, and I played a few school house dances with Ernest Tubbs back then before he moved on. “At the end of the dance, I would get anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar for the job, depending on how many dancers there were. My family and I would play house dances and make about a buck a piece.” Dick began to be interested in Western Swing and concentrated on learning about that style. Dick moved away from Texas and became fiddler for Tex Ritter and subbed as a fiddler for the Sons of the Pioneers. He became one of the most successful competitors ever with a long and colorful history as a breakdown fiddler. For the last 24 years Dick has lived in Montana with his wife Lisa. There they have taught Texas Fiddling to a large number of people from all over the world that come there to study with them as resident students. He does the bow work for the Violin Shop that his wife Lisa runs. They still travel about 50,000 miles a year playing and promoting Texas fiddling. At 85, his favorite part of life is sitting down to a good jam session in someone’s home playing tunes and enjoying company that music seemed to bring. When asked what he favorite tunes are, he replied with a smile, “I love them all.” Mr. Barrett passed away February 23, 2012.
Calvin’s love for music began at an early age when he mimicked his fiddling father, Art “Lefty” Vollrath. By the age of 8 he received his first fiddle and it soon became apparent that he was a natural. By the age of 17 he was winning championships at fiddle contests and has twice won the Grand North American Old Tyme Fiddling Championship. He has composed over 400 tunes, released over 50 CD’s, several fiddle books and an instructional DVD. He was commissioned to write five fiddle tunes for the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics that took place in Vancouver, Canada. He is touted by the Saskatchewan Cultural Exchange Society as being one of the driving forces behind the revitalization of the fiddling tradition in recent years. He teaches at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Camp in Ottawa every year as well as many other camps and workshops. In 2005, Calvin received the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the Canadian Grand Masters Championship. He also received the Bev Munro Award sponsored by the Association of Country Music Legends in 2009. He is known as a performer, teacher, composer, and judge. He also keeps busy at his home in St. Paul, Alberta producing recordings of other fiddlers from across Canada
Ron West grew up in the era when kitchen dances--known as junkets or tunks-- regularly brought farm neighbors together to socialize and make music. Ron's mother played the parlor organ and his father and uncle were fiddlers. During his teens he was playing for kitchen dances after listening and observing his family members and learning to play the fiddle. He has kept the fiddle by his side often playing, playing in bands, informally with friends, in solo concert, or just playing at home. A shy, unassuming person, he has accumulated shelves of fiddling competition trophies and is widely recognized as an outstanding old-time fiddler. At fiddle contests, he often placed and has many trophies to attest to his talent. He was known to preserve the old tunes of the past, promotes old time fiddling by performing around the Northeast, and preserve old time fiddling by teaching. He was a valuable asset to the Vermont Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program as a master teacher to young musicians. He also taught privately at home. He was known to have a fun time fiddling but at the same time was serious, disciplined and had a passion for the fiddle. Ron West was a 2001 Artist Award Recipient of the Vermont Governor’s Heritage Award.
Vivian Williams and her husband, have been documenting and performing Northwest folk music since their teens in the 1950's. This fiddler is a fine example of what Inductees to the Hall of Fame should accomplish. She is known for promoting, perpetuating and preserving old time fiddling throughout the United States as well as being an excellent fiddler. Our Inductee is well known in the U.S. and Canada for her fiddling ability. She performs regularly for old time dancing and is one of the leading old time and bluegrass fiddlers on the West Coast. She has won many fiddle contests and awards in the U.S. and Canada and she won the Smithsonian Fiddle Contest in Washington, D.C., This year she was inducted into the National Old Time Fiddle Contest Hall of Fame at Weiser, Idaho. Our inductee plays primarily in the old time fiddle styles found among fiddlers in the Pacific Northwest, with an influence of older era bluegrass. She is known as one of the major historians of the pioneer dance music of the Far West, and, particularly, the Pacific Northwest. She is a noted composer of fiddle tunes, and her tunes have been recorded by many prominent folk and bluegrass musicians. The couple is known to have been published in folk, fiddle, and bluegrass periodicals, posted on the Internet, and have been used in documentary movies on Northwest history. This couple grew up dancing traditional pioneer and contemporary dances, and are noted dance musicians. They have put together several dance bands and have played many dances over the past fifty or so years, including square dances, contra dances, traditional family or "Grange" dances, and ballroom dances. She is teaching (her seventeenth year) at the Washington Old Time Fiddlers annual week long workshop where NW Fiddlers teach primarily traditional old time dance tunes. She has taught at many other noted workshops and Festivals. This fiddler helped found the Seattle Folklore Society, Northwest Folklife, and the Washington Old Time Fiddlers Association. Her credentials, aside from her vast experience, is a B.A. degree from Reed College, Portland, Oregon, in Northwest History, and an M.A. degree in Anthropology (specializing in Ethnomusicology) from the University of Washington, Seattle. Our inductee in partnership with her husband own and operate Voyager Recordings & Publications, which has released recordings of over 85 fiddlers and has developed the most extensive recorded archive of Northwest fiddle and old time music in the country. She has collected and published three volumes of "Brand New Old Time Fiddle Tunes," containing 461 fiddle tunes written by contemporary fiddlers, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. As well as the only two manuscripts so far discovered and published that were actually played from by dance bands in the pioneer Pacific Northwest. She has many recordings in her own rite. The Seattle Metropolitan Magazine "Top 50 Most Influential Seattle Musicans in the Last 100 Years." In 2011 they received the "Best in the West- Ambassador" award from Folk Alliance West, the Western U.S. division of this international organization, for fifty years of performing and documenting the traditional fiddle music of the Pacific Northwest. This year she was inducted into the National Old Time Fiddle Contest Hall of Fame at Weiser, Idaho. Please give a cheer for our newest North American Inductee, Vivian Williams from Washington.
Carol Ann Wheeler
Carol Ann Wheeler from the state of Washington. She is a lady champion fiddler. She loved the sounds of the fiddle music as a child but was learning classical violin. It was only after she became an adult and was working as a string teacher in schools did she develop her love of fiddling. She spent lots of time studying different styles of fiddling and has recordings featuring many of these styles including old time, Texas, Canadian, Scottish and Irish styles. She is a three time Oregon State Fiddle Champion, five time Northwest Regional Ladies Fiddle Champ, and is the 1979 National Ladies Fiddle Champion in the National Superbowl of Fiddling among many other awards. She has appeared at many fiddle and folk festivals across the US. She has spent much of her life teaching in schools and at workshops in many different states across the country including the Fiddler’s Picnic.
1919 - 2013 Victor Fountain Kibbler was born October 22, 1919, in the Town of Wells, New York. His Grandfather William Fountain was a fine fiddler, and it was his playing that influenced Vic’s playing style. Vic started to learn fiddle at the age of thirteen and got his own instrument two years later. During WW II, Vic served as an Army medic. After returning home he became an auto mechanic and also played with a group called the Adirondack Mountaineers. He then married and found himself playing for his three sons. Vic has long sought out and learned as many good tunes as he could find. He had an enviable repertoire of over 500 tunes, old and new. Vic made numerous appearances from the 1990s until his death. He was honored as a Master of North Country Folklife by North Country Public Radio and also received a North Country Heritage Award from TAUNY (Traditional Arts of Upstate NY). Victor served as a fiddle contest judge for 25 years. He was considered an expert in tune authentication and spent much time recording family tunes for the Adirondack Fiddler Project that would have been lost otherwise. This project went on to win Smithsonian awards in folk music for two years in a row. Through the years, Victor taught many students in the aural tradition. Sadly, Vic died in August, 2013. Vic’s son Paul accepted the award on behalf of the family.
Patti Kusturok, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada was the North American Inductee into the Hall of Fame. Graham Sheppard, President of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association, who was in attendance for the induction ceremony said “It was a fitting honor to be given to Patti. She has devoted her life to the preservation of fiddle music as an iconic art form in Canadian culture.”
Mr. Farrel is from Bath, Maine. Frank is widely regarded as a leading authority on North American traditional fiddle music. He began his fiddling career at age 8, being influenced by his grandfather, a traditional fiddler in Ohio and West Virginia. In the early 1970’s, while in New England, he honed his interest in traditional fiddling from the influences of local Irish, French-Acadian, and Canadian Maritime fiddlers. Along with researching, collecting, composing, publishing and teaching, he is considered to be one of Americas’ leading fiddlers performing today. Mr. Ferrel has kept active musically throughout the years playing for major festivals as well as local music sessions and dances. Frank has made numerous appearances on the nationally broadcast American radio series, A Prairie Home Companion and Says You. He has performed with the legendary Celtic group, The Boys of the Lough. His major label CD, Yankee Dreams, was chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in their Select List of 25 Recordings of American Folk Music. Frank has published 315 original tunes in The Ferrel Collection and just composed “The Fiddlers Picnic Jig” for his stint at this year’s Picnic. Fiddlers’ Picnic Festival.
Kelli Trottier toured much of the world as a featured soloist in the Sensational String Production, Bowfire for nine years, “The finest lineup of fiddle and violin virtuosi ever assembled on one stage.”
As a triple threat, Kelli brings her crisp fiddling, Angelic voice and fiery stepdance to all of her performances. Her talents carry her to stages across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Far North, making fans and friends at every venue along the way.
A Member of the North America Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame, Kelli has performed for Canadian soldiers in the Middle East and the Canadian Arctic. She has brought twenty thousand NHL Ottawa Senators Fans to their feet many times as the featured mid-game entertainer. More highlights for Kelli include performing for Sir Sean Connery’s Dressed to Kilt several times in NYC and for his private 80th birthday party in the Bahamas.
Her art was developed from deep and lasting Scottish and French roots, and together with other influences of contemporary and traditional music, Kelli shaped her performing and recording career. She has earned a dedicated and growing following and glowing accolades from promoters, organizers and fans.
In addition to her extensive performing experience, Kelli continues to be a highly sought-after instructor and judge of fiddle and stepdance events across Canada and parts of the U.S. She has been nominated three times for Fiddle Player ofthe Year by the Canadian Country Music Association and has performed live and in studio with George Fox, The Family Brown, Randall Prescott, Wayne Rostad, Lucille Starr and more. Most recently, Kelli was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame!
With ten independent recordings; singing, dancing and playing her way to the top of her musical genre, Kelli Trottier is an unforgettable and enchanting artist, consistently delivering performances that raise her stature in the hearts and memories of audiences everywhere.
Gordon Stobbe is considered one of Canada's master fiddlers and teachers. His fiddle career accomplishments include composing, hosting and musical directing for theater, radio broadcasts and television. As a teacher, mentor and workshop leader he is in high demand across Canada; not just for his teaching and performing, but for his skills as a square dance caller. Gordon Stobbe has over 23 fiddle instruction and repertoire book available, featuring traditional music and his own fiddle tunes. A long list of other honors of Gordon Stobbe include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association, induction into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame, recipient of the 2016 East Coast Music Association Stompin' Tom Award and being invested as a member of the Order of Canada for "his commitment to the preservation of fiddle music as a performer, composer and teacher". For these reasons and many more, Gordon Stobbe was nominated and elected to be the 2019 North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame inductee.