Play It Forward

Riley Gilbreath awarded College Scholarship

Texas Banjo Champion Riley Gilbreath awarded Scholarship
to Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music through
Foundation’s Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program

Riley GilbreathAugust 19, 2019
Reigning Texas State Banjo Champion Riley Gilbreath, age 15, was today awarded a first-semester scholarship by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.  The scholarship was funded in part from donations to the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation’s Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program.

Although still a sophomore in high school (in Texas), Riley enrolled in online classes in audio recording technology and bluegrass music history at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music in Hyden, Kentucky, a part of the Hazard Community and Technical College and University of Kentucky system.  Dean Osborne directs the bluegrass music program and personally welcomed Riley to the growing ranks of online students at the school.

RileyKentucky School of Bluegrass logo is an accomplished banjoist, having won the Texas championship in May 2019 after winning the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival banjo championship in 2018.  He is a Bluegrass Heritage Foundation Youth Showcase Artist and plays the Huber Workhorse banjo that was bestowed in connection with that honor.  Riley will be competing at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas later this month for the national banjo championship title.

“We’re all thrilled to see how quickly Riley has developed his considerable musical talents, and even more excited that he wants to include the study of bluegrass music in his collegiate career.  Riley will be in good company at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music, which includes Bobby Osborne, Dean Osborne, Scott Napier, and Virgil Bowlin among its faculty,” noted Foundation president Alan Tompkins.

The Mr. Johnny Vincent Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program is named in memory of Mr. Johnny Vincent of Greentop, Missouri, a bluegrass pioneer and the father of the Foundation’s first Bluegrass Star Award® recipient, Rhonda Vincent, and bluegrass star Darrin Vincent.  Johnny was known for his unique banjo style and founded the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Queen City, Missouri.

The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation appreciates the support of Mr. Vincent’s family and friends and our many donors and volunteers, all of whom helped make it possible for us to assist young people in making bluegrass happen.

Kentucky Just Us Family Band awarded College Scholarship

Kentucky Just Us Family Band awarded Scholarship to attend
Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music through
Foundation’s Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program

October 20, 2018
Kentucky Just Us, the O’Neal family bluegrass band from Greensburg, Kentucky, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation on Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival at the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West in Farmers Branch, Texas.  (The Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival, typically held in the Farmers Branch Historical Park, was held in the Omni for 2018 due to wet conditions in the park.)  The scholarship was funded in part from donations to the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation’s Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program.  The band played a short set before the scholarship presentation and wowed the crowd at the Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival.

Several members of the Kentucky Just Us family band are enrolled in classes where they are studying bluegrass music at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music in Hyden, Kentucky, which is a part of the Hazard Community and Technical College.  Dean Osborne directs the bluegrass music program, and joined the band on stage for the scholarship presentation. 

“We’re so excited to help this terrific young band develop their already-outstanding bluegrass musical skills, and we know they are in the good hands of Dean Osborne, Scott Napier, Virgil Bowlin, and – of course – Mr. Bobby Osborne at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass,” said Foundation president Alan Tompkins.

The Mr. Johnny Vincent Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program is named in memory of Mr. Johnny Vincent of Greentop, Missouri, a bluegrass pioneer and the father of the Foundation’s first Bluegrass Star Award® recipient, Rhonda Vincent, and bluegrass star Darrin Vincent.  Johnny was known for his unique banjo style and founded the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Queen City, Missouri.

The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation appreciates the support of Mr. Vincent’s family and friends and our many donors and volunteers, all of whom make it possible for us to assist young people in making bluegrass happen.  The photos of Kentucky Just Us are courtesy of Perry Callahan.

More Play It Forward! Instruments Presented to Fiddle & Pick Musical Heritage Center

More Play It Forward!® Instruments Presented to
Fiddle & Pick Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee

Fiddle and Pick July 2018July 31, 2018
Foundation President Alan Tompkins, board member Julie Tompkins, and able assistant Jessica Tompkins today presented Gretchen Priest-May, the co-founder (along with her husband, Tim May) of the Fiddle & Pick Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee, with several instruments as part of the Foundation’s Play It Forward!® Instrument Lending Program efforts to support its outstanding affiliates. “We have always loved what Gretchen, Tim, and the others at the Center have done to bring traditional music to children around Pegram, Tennessee,” said Tompkins. “The dedication and commitment of everyone involved with the Center is amazing.  We hope these instruments can help a few more young people go farther in their musical journeys.”

More Young People are Playing Music Thanks to Play It Forward!

More young people are playing music thanks to Play It Forward!

Audrey & Madelyn FieldsDecember 27, 2017
The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation is proud to announce that it has presented several instruments to young people in the North Texas area over the past few months through the Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program

Audrey Fields, an 8-year-old from Waxahachie, is teaming up with her sister, 6-year-old Madelyn Fields, to learn to play fiddle on instruments provided by our program.  Their mother and father, Lori and Jason Fields, are members of our bluegrass community and are musicians as well, and they are excited Jacob Janderthat their daughters want to learn to play.

Jacob Jander of Irving, Texas is anxious to develop his flatpicking skills using the vintage Alvarez acoustic guitar provided by our program.  He said that he’s already learned most of the chords to his favorite bluegrass gospel tune, This World Is Not My Home, and he’s ready to learn more bluegrass tunes.  AndJohn Puetz John Puetz of Dallas was excited to start learning to play bluegrass banjo on the Gretsch five-string banjo provided by the program in December.

As always, we are thrilled to be able to help deserving young people who want to be a part of our bluegrass music community.  We sincerely appreciate all of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation supporters who make a difference and find a way to do good for so many fine young people.

13-year-old Riley Gilbreath becomes a Bluegrass Heritage Foundation Youth Showcase Artist

13-year-old Banjo Player Riley Gilbreath becomes a
  Bluegrass Heritage Foundation Youth Showcase Artist

October 21, 2017
Riley Gilbreath (2016)In October 2016, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, through the Play it Forward! Instrument Lending Program®, presented 12-year-old Riley Gilbreath of Fort Worth, Texas, with a five string banjo so that he could start taking bluegrass banjo lessons.  Riley made dramatic progress quickly, impressing his teacher Jim Penson and others who helped him along by exhibiting a dedication and drive to play shown by few others.Riley Gilbreath Presentation

At the Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cook-Off held in the Farmers Branch, Texas Historical Park on October 21, 2017, Steve Huber of the Huber Banjo Company was on hand to perform with Texas & Tennessee.  He also had a number of new Huber banjos on display.  Steve enjoyed picking with Riley, and spent a great deal of time giving him pointers on how to play more proficiently.  

Riley Gilbreath PresentationOne thing led to another, and the decision was made by Alan Tompkins of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, Steve Huber, and Jana & Danny Gilbreath (Riley’s parents) to present Riley with a new professional-grade walnut Huber Workhorse banjo for his continued development.  Riley is only the second person to be named a Youth Showcase Artist, with the first being Brandy Miller in 2012.

The presentation was made to Riley on stage at the Festival, and Riley was moved nearly to tears.  His father reported that Riley asked for days afterwards, “how can something this good be happening to me?”  In the weeks since the presentation, Riley has played on stage several times as a guest with Dallas/Fort Worth area bluegrass bands.  We expect that he will continue to have opportunities to perform on stage for years to come. 

As always, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation is thrilled to be able to help deserving young people play bluegrass music, and we sincerely appreciate all of our supporters for helping to make it happen.  We’d especially like to thank the family of Johnny Lee Vincent, including Rhonda Vincent, Carolyn Vincent, and Darrin Vincent, for their support of the Foundation’s Play it Forward!® program and the Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program.  Their support helped to make these programs possible.

Here’s a video of the presentation, courtesy of Mark Shaffer.  Photos are courtesy of Nathaniel Dalzell.

Nate Jennings, Gigi Jennings, and Riley Gilbreath attend 2017 Acoustic Music Camp

Nate Jennings, Gigi Jennings, and Riley Gilbreath attend 2017
Acoustic Music Camp on Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program

Scholarships Recipients July 2017August 8, 2017
12-year-old banjoist Nate Jennings and his little sister, Gigi Jennings, of Tyler, Texas, as well as Riley Gilbreath of Fort Worth, Texas attended the eleventh annual Acoustic Music Camp in Arlington, Texas (July 27-29, 2017) thanks to the Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program.  Nate attended the camp last year and did a great job on banjo, and Gigi has been making progress as a young fiddler.

Riley Gilbreath has been advancing rapidly as a musician and banjoist and particularly enjoyed attending the advanced banjo classes taught by Bill Evans and Tony Trischka.  (Riley’s first banjo was provided by our Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program, but he already moved on to buy his own Recording King banjo!  The Acoustic Music Camp faculty included accomplished banjoists Tony Trischka, Bill Evans, and Gerald Jones.  Other renowned faculty included Robert Bowlin, Tim May, Gretchen Priest-May, Paul Glasse, Brad Davis, Dix Bruce, and Roberta Rast.

The Mr. Johnny Vincent Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program is named in memory of Mr. Johnny Vincent of Greentop, Missouri, a bluegrass pioneer and the father of the Foundation’s first Bluegrass Star Award® recipient, Rhonda Vincent, and bluegrass star Darrin Vincent.  Johnny and his family toured the world as the Sally Mountain Show, performing their special brand of bluegrass music. He was known for his unique banjo style and founded the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Queen City, Missouri.

The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation appreciates the support of Mr. Vincent’s family and friends, our other donors and volunteers, and all who help make it possible for us to assist young people like Nate and Gigi Jennings and Riley Gilbreath.

More youth learn to play bluegrass music because of the Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program

More youth learn to play bluegrass music because
of the the Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program

Brian JanvierJuly 25, 2017
Gigi JenningsThe Bluegrass Heritage Foundation continues presenting instruments to young people in and around Texas through our Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program.  The latest is 14-year-old Brian Janvier of Johnson City, Texas (pictured at left).  Brian plays percussion in band at school, is a solid guitar player, and is very excited about learning to play bluegrass on the banjo!  Gigi Jennings, an 8-year-old from Tyler, Texas, got her first fiddle through the program and is working hard to develop her “bow arm”!  We are happy to help these fine young folks who want to learn and play bluegrass music, and we appreciate all who have supported the Foundation with donations and instruments.

More young people are learning to play through the Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program

Young people are learning to play bluegrass through
the Play It Forward!™ Program

Nicholas WilliamsDecember 5, 2016
The Bluegrass Heritage FoundationJacob Williams has been busy in recent months presenting instruments to young people around the North Texas through our Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program.  The latest is 12-year-old Nicholas Williams of Howe, Texas (pictured at left), who is the younger brother of another Play It Forward!™ participant, Jacob Williams (at right).  We are excited to help more young people learn and play bluegrass music, and we appreciate all who have supported the Foundation with donations and instruments to make this happen.

Tom & Nate Jennings attend 2016 Acoustic Music Camp

Brothers Tom & Nate Jennings attend 2016 Acoustic Music Camp on
Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program

Tom and Nate JenningsAugust 15, 2016
11-year-old banjoist Nate Jennings and his 14-year-old guitarist brother, Tom Jennings, of Tyler, Texas, attended the tenth annual Acoustic Music Camp in Arlington, Texas (August 11-13, 2016) under the Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program from the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.  (Younger sister Gigi, an aspiring fiddler, enjoyed hanging out at camp while her brothers attended classes.)  Tom has been playing guitar for about 18 months.  Younger brother Nate (already a ukulele player) became inspired to play banjo by listening to bluegrass on The Ranch, KKUS-FM, in Tyler, hosted by Julie Tucker, Dave Rousseau, and Corey Coleman.  (Nate’s banjo was provided by our Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending Program.)  The Acoustic Music Camp faculty included accomplished banjoists Tony Trischka, Alan O’Bryant, and Gerald Jones.  Other renowned faculty included Robert Bowlin, Tim May, Nate Lee, Ivan Rosenberg, Jim Hurst, Dix Bruce, and Dave Hamburger.

The Mr. Johnny Vincent Johnny Lee Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program is named in memory of Mr. Johnny Vincent of Greentop, Missouri, a bluegrass pioneer and the father of the Foundation’s first Bluegrass Star Award® recipient, Rhonda Vincent, and bluegrass star Darrin Vincent.  Johnny and his family toured the world as the Sally Mountain Show, performing their special brand of bluegrass music. He was known for his unique banjo style and founded the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Queen City, Missouri.

The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation appreciates the support of Mr. Vincent’s family and friends, our other donors and volunteers, and all who help make it possible for us to assist young people like Nate and Tom Jennings.

More Young People are Playing Thanks to the Play It Forward! Program

More young people are playing thanks to the Play It Forward!™ Program

Antonio SantiagoAugust 11, 2016
Things have been busy around the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation world headquarters recently!  The Foundation has had the pleasure to present several instruments to young people in the North Texas area through the Play It Forward!™ Instrument Lending ProgramAntonio Santiago, a 15-year-old from Garland, Texas plans to use his award-winning tenor-banjo skills to learn to play 5-string bluegrass banjo.  Emmaline Woolverton, a 12-year-old from Melissa, Texas is teaming up with her sister, 7-year-old Lindsay Woolverton, to start learning to play fiddle on instruments Emmaline & Lindsay Woolvertonprovided by our program. (You might recognize the Woolverton name; older brothers Ben and Caleb Woolverton received instruments through Play It Forward!™ last year and are playing weekly in a youth bluegrass band coordinated by Chris and Lisa Plumlee!)

15-year-old Patience NewsomePatience Newsom of Plano, Texas is excited to start learning to play bluegrass banjo.  Patience joined us at the Wylie Jubilee on July 2, 2016 to pick up a great-sounding vintage Iida banjo.  Nate Jennings, a talented 11-year-old ukulele player from Tyler, has received a banjo through our program so that he can learn to play with his guitar-picking big brother, Tom.

Dalton Bartlett, a 16-year-old from Anna, Texas, received a mandolin on stage at Lone Star Fest at the same time that 13-year-old  Jacob Williams of Howe, Texas received his banjo.  Dalton and Jacob were welcomed on stage by Blue Grass Boy Blake Williams, a former member of Bill Monroe’s band. Williams Bartlett And we have another Jacob Williams, a wonderful 9-year-old young man from Weatherford, Texas, who recently picked up a banjo from the Foundation, and he too is excitedly learning to play bluegrass banjo!

We’re thrilled that so many deserving young people now have the opportunity to join the bluegrass music community!  Our thanks to all who support the Foundation and do good for these young people.

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