Fiddling rang out from the Henry Ford Theater stage at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for two days recently welcoming fiddlers of all ages and styles which represent a cornucopia of American musical experience.
The 46th Annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship continued its great legacy began by the Grand Ole Opry with fiddlers from across the U.S. competing for thousands in cash and prizes and an opportunity to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. The contest which was once just a focus for the top contest style fiddlers now boasts three distinct categories – Traditional, Youth and an Open category.
The traditional category allows fiddlers sharing Cajun, Irish, Scottish, Southern Appalachian, bluegrass and Ozark influences among the mix.
Youth category sets aside a special place for youth fiddlers to be rated and grow in their talents, with many often nearing the competition level of the adults.
Finally, the open category is all ages who wish to stand toe to toe with America’s best fiddlers performing the classic Texas style contest fiddling to make their mark as the official Grand Master following in the path of fiddlers such as Mark O’Connor, Jimmy Mattingly, Dan Kelly and last year’s winner Maddie Denton.
I was privileged to mark my tenth-year walking in the footsteps of Roy Acuff and Porter Wagoner as celebrity host of the Grand Master Fiddler Championship, now settled in at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum annually on Labor Day weekend joined by emcees Kevin Mudd and Craig Havighurst.
My association began with the event when I first competed in the competition as a teen and later served as a Grand Ole Opry guest entertainer at the event.
The late Dr. Perry Harris forged the creation of the contest with the backing of legendary Opry figures including Roy Acuff. Each year an award is given in his honor – this year Grammy © winner and champion fiddler Larry Franklin of the Time Jumpers and formally of Asleep at the Wheel was honored for his work in support of the traditional art of fiddling.
Howard Harris and Ed Carnes continue the tradition of making the event a success with the support of a board of directors.
As part of the event weekend Grand Ole Opry stars the Riders in the Sky and Mike Snider appeared and last year’s winners Maddie Denton and Ivy Phillips made their Grand Ole Opry appearances.
The Grand Master Youth Champion is Benjamin Lin of Lexington, Ky., the Grand Master Traditional Champion is Tyler Andal of Nashville, Tenn. Both won $300, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry.
The Grand Master Fiddler for 2017 is Mia Orosco of Woodway, Texas who took home $1,200 in cash, a $500 gift certificate courtesy of D’Addario, a Grand Master Fiddler plaque, and will appear on the Grand Ole Opry.
Congratulations to all the competitors and thanks to Howard and Ed for working so hard to keep the tradition growing!