Applications for the IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship, the Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship, and the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship for the fall 2021 semester must be submitted by June 1, 2021. One recipient will be chosen for each of the three scholarships in 2021.

Apply by emailing the application form and one letter of recommendation to or by mailing to: IBMA Foundation, Attn: Scholarships, 1182 University Drive #115-215, Burlington, NC 27215. (If mailed, letters must be postmarked by June 1, 2021.)

Students may apply for more than one scholarship on this application form. Applicants must either be citizens of the United States or international students planning to go to college in the United States. Applicants for the Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship must be current members of IBMA (info: You may apply for and/or receive scholarship support for more than one year, but you must re-apply each year by June 1 for the following fall semester.

Click here to download and fill out the application form.

Thanks to Lee Zapis of Z Mandolins, whose recent donation helped make it possible to launch the IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship this year. We appreciate everyone who has contributed to the future of bluegrass music by making a donation to one of these three important scholarships!


The IBMA Bluegrass College Scholarship: The IBMA Foundation grants one $1,000 scholarship each year to a student majoring in bluegrass or a bluegrass-related field of study at the undergraduate college level. The first scholarship will be awarded by August 1, 2021 for the fall 2021 semester.

Eligible beneficiaries are enrolled undergraduate college students who are: 1) majoring or planning to major in bluegrass-music-related fields of study or 2) minoring or planning to minor in bluegrass-music-related fields of study who have also been invited to perform in a college-level bluegrass ensemble. Bluegrass music–related studies include but are not limited to bluegrass performance, music education, folklore, sound engineering and recording, lutherie (building and repairing instruments), business, marketing, public relations, songwriting/publishing, or other academic study of bluegrass and related roots musics.

The successful candidate for this scholarship should have aspirations of being involved in the bluegrass music industry on a professional level in the future and should show evidence of talent in a bluegrass-related field. International students who are planning to attend a college and study bluegrass in the United States are eligible to apply.

The Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship will be awarded to one female bluegrass musician for fall 2021 studies at the college of her choice, in the amount of $1,000. Applicants are not required to have a declared major in bluegrass music, although women enrolled in a bluegrass university degree program are welcome to apply. Initial funds for this scholarship were donated by Murphy Hicks Henry, co-founder with her husband Red Henry of the Murphy Method instructional media company and author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press).

Sally Ann Forrester was born Wilene Russell and known to her family as “Billie.” Sometimes called the first woman in bluegrass, she played with Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys from 1943 until 1946. Her 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.” Forrester 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.

The Rick Lang Music Songwriter Scholarship will be awarded to an IBMA member planning to study songwriting on the college level for the fall 2021 semester, in the amount of $2,000. Applicants are not required to have a declared major in songwriting, but they must already have demonstrated skills as a songwriter and plan to further their study of the art on a higher education level.

Funds for the scholarship have been donated by Rick Lang, a Grammy-nominated writer who also serves as the chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee and volunteers with the IBMA Songwriter Mentor Program.

Applicants for the Rick Lang Music scholarship must be current IBMA members to be considered. (See Any type of membership is fine: professional, Grassroots Club (fan), youth, or college student.

RETURN to the April 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.