Christmas came early for six young bluegrass musicians who received scholarships from the S.C. Bluegrass and Traditional Music Association (SCBTMA) earlier this month.
The students won for their skills in playing acoustic fiddle, guitar, and banjo, all in bluegrass style. Their scholarships totaled $1,250 under the Bill Wells Memorial Scholarship program, which is in its fourth year. The awards may be used at the discretion of the recipients for expenses such as lessons, music camps, new instruments, and strings.
Five of the awards were for $ 200. A $ 250 award was given in honor of Patricia Gale Allison, a musician and the late mother of SCBTMA member Tammy Wolfe. It went to Molly Johnson, 12, a banjo player from Pumpkintown in Pickens County.
The $200 prizes were awarded to three fiddle players from Columbia: Chloe Davis, 14; Anna Johnson, 14; and Elsa Walker, 11, as well as guitarists Tanner Addy, 13, of West Columbia, and Tripp Williams, 18, of Chapin.
Louise Wells, wife of the late Bill Wells, presented checks and framed certificates to the winners December 9 at Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor in West Columbia.
Also recognized was Pat Ahrens, SCBTMA co-founder and past president, who received an honorary lifetime membership for her work in promoting bluegrass music. Ahrens is an author and music historian; she is familiar to musicians and audience members alike as the longtime emcee at Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor shows. The other SCBTMA founder, Bill Wells, was a well-known bluegrass musician in South Carolina and the U.S. Wells opened Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor in 1985. His son, Willie, operates the business today.
To close out the awards evening, the six young musicians performed individually for the large gathering of family, friends, and SCBTMA members. Two of the scholarship winners are students at Ben Lippen School.
After performing separately, they were joined onstage by the other four members of the school’s bluegrass band. Their final act included an encore.
The youth scholarships help to fulfill one of SCBTMA’s objectives—to preserve and increase awareness of bluegrass and traditional music in South Carolina. These are forms of folk music passed down from generation to generation in America.
The association welcomes new members. Individual memberships cost $15 and provide a variety of benefits.
For more information, call (803) 796-6477.
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