The Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship

The Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship is a $1,000 fall semester scholarship awarded to one female bluegrass musician annually.

Sally Ann Forrester was born Wilene Russell and known to her family as “Billie.” She played with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys from 1943 until 1946, earning the title of first woman in bluegrass. Forrester’s accordion playing can be heard prominently on several of Monroe’s 1945 Columbia recordings, including “Kentucky Waltz,” “Rocky Road Blues,” and “Blue Grass Special.” She sang tenor to Monroe on the trio cuts “Come Back to Me in My Dreams” and “Nobody Loves Me.” She was also in the first-ever configuration of the Blue Grass Boys to include Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt, along with her husband Howdy on fiddle and his brother Joe on bass in December 1945.

Initial funds for the Sally Ann Forrester scholarships were donated by Murphy Hicks Henry, co-founder with her husband, Red Henry, of the Murphy Method instructional media company and the author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press). The application deadline for the fall scholarship is June 1.

Go here to apply. Contact Nancy Cardwell for more information: 615.260.4807,

    2020 Recipients

    The first five recipients of the Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship (along with the first recipient of the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship) are pictured below. 

    • Megan Cody, at the University of Colorado, Boulder
    • Clara Guilmette, at Central Connecticut State University
    • Jessica Lang, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee
    • Anne Jarrell, at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    • Bailey Stephenson, at West Liberty University in West Virginia

    2021 Recipients

    Hayley King is pursuing a double major in Traditional Music and Spanish at Morehead State University in Kentucky. King studies bluegrass and old-time music at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, where she takes music classes and participates in various bands. Hayley has spent the past summer with an internship co-producing the radio show, “Songs of Our Heritage,” which features musical performances by current and previous participants in the KCTM program. Through her double major in Spanish and Traditional Appalachian Music, King says she wants to pursue a career that will help people to appreciate each other and respect each other’s cultures. “By connecting with each other through sharing our language, art, and music, we can form unbreakable bonds within our communities and find lifelong friends,” King writes.

    Emma Turoff  is a Performance major on mandolin with a minor in American Roots Music at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. She grew up in New York City surrounded by bluegrass musicians, including her father, who is a guitarist. She picked up the mandolin at age 11 when her dad told her she could stay up later at night at bluegrass festivals when she learned to play an instrument in tune and in time. Emma produced a 90-minute documentary on the New York City bluegrass scene, “Bluegrass Grows in Brooklyn,” which premiered in March 2020. During the pandemic she took lessons with Dominick Leslie and Andy Statman, and she started an outdoor socially distanced concert series to entertain neighbors and support local musicians. “I intend to become a force in this industry as a performer and an organizer,” Turoff wrote in her application.

    Below: Hayley King (left) and Emma Turoff (right) are pictured with the other 2021 recipients of IBMA Foundation college scholarships. 

    Friend of the Foundation



    Join the street team working together to create a brighter future for bluegrass.

    Anyone willing to share information with friends and colleagues about IBMA Foundation-hosted scholarships, grants, and programs is WELCOME to sign up as a “Friend of the Foundation” and use the logo above. Fill out the form below to request a free brochure, sticker, and magnet. 

    Please display the Friend of the Foundation logo on your websites, social media pages, marketing messages, liner notes, and fliers.

    The Friends of the Foundation group is open to all individuals, companies, and organizations interested in helping bluegrass music grow, sharing it with future generations and new audiences around the world. CLICK HERE to read about ways you could help as a Friend of the Foundation.

    Click Here to be a Friend of the Foundation

    The IBMA Foundation
    1183 University Drive #105-215
    Burlington, NC 27215