The IBMA Foundation is proud to announce the launch of the Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians. The Bright family of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Thomas J. Brown of Dalton, Georgia; and Barbara Martin Stephens of Madison, Tennessee made combined gifts of $29,000 to create the fund that will benefit young people interested in learning to play bluegrass music and endow it for decades to come.

Fletcher Bright Memorial Grants will be awarded in various amounts to cover expenses of lessons, educational materials, instrument rental or purchase, workshops and camps. Young bluegrass musicians at all levels may apply for assistance. Financial need will be considered but is not required to receive a Bright grant. Applications for Bright grants may be made starting April 1, 2022, and throughout the year at this link.

The grant honors Fletcher White Bright (1931-2017), a lifelong resident of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, who led a residential and commercial development company with offices in Chattanooga and Atlanta. One of the world’s great traditional old time and bluegrass fiddlers, Fletcher was a lover and supporter of all things bluegrass, and his vast repertoire of fiddle tunes is legendary. While a student at McCallie School in the 1940s, Bright formed the band that would later become the Dismembered Tennesseans, kickstarting a seventy-year journey of music, entertaining, travel and just plain fun. The band performed regionally and nationally and was featured on ABC-TV’s Peter Jennings Nightly News and the NBC Sunday Today Show.

In addition to recording a number of albums, Bright was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2017. He served on the board of trustees of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, chairing the board for several years. In 2008 Bright himself endowed a scholarship for students playing and studying roots music at Berklee College of Music. Each year that scholarship recipient is invited to perform at the Three Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival, a free event Bright founded and named for his daughters, presented each fall in Chattanooga.

IBMA Foundation board chair Fred Bartenstein said, “We are so pleased about the establishment of a grant to help with educational expenses for young bluegrass musicians, named for Fletcher Bright. His colleagues know that Fletcher loved teaching as much as he loved playing the fiddle. We thank the Bright family, Tom Brown, and Barbara Martin Stephens for their generous donations to found the Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant for Young Musicians, and it is our hope that other friends and fans of Fletcher will also support the grant program.”

Return to the March 2020 issue of The Cornerstone.

Photo above courtesy of the Bright family: Fletcher Bright performing at the Three Sisters Festival in Chattanooga, TN.