Our congratulations to brother and sister Judah Davis and Bayla Davis from Leicester, North Carolina, the first two recipients of Fletcher Bright Memorial Grants for Young Musicians. Bayla will be attending the Bela Fleck Blue Ridge Banjo Camp, and Judah will be a student at the Bryan Sutton Blue Ridge Guitar Camp, both hosted by the Brevard (NC) Music Center. Fletcher Bright grants may be requested by or for young bluegrass musicians (up to age 21), in various amounts based on what is needed. In addition to camps and workshops, Bright grants may also be used to assist with lessons, educational materials, instrument rental or purchase of instruments. Applications may be submitted throughout the year.

Project grant report from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Ole-Time Music Association (MBOTMA):

“The IBMA Foundation generously granted us $1,000 for our Grass Seeds Youth Music Development program. We normally have between 30-50 students attend the academy during Winter Weekend, but this year we had 13 attendees, plus the five members of the High 48s Minneapolis-based band who were instructors. The students got LOTS of individual attention which would not have been possible with a larger group.

“Students and teachers had a fun weekend. Seven were first time participants and several students were on the younger end of the spectrum, so we’re excited about them continuing with the program for years to come. Group classes were taught for banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals. The students learned songs, planned their presentation, and performed on the main stage the last day of the festival.

“One parent said, ‘Everything was excellent. The High 48s are master teachers. Thank you so much for this wonderful program!’

“Max Etling, a participant in the Grass Seeds Academy during his middle school years from 2007-9, eventually helped the High 48s instruct the Academy for two years. ‘This program is where I learned one of my first bluegrass guitar solos,’ Etling recalled. ‘And while I play bass professionally now, I will not forget the experience of learning in that environment! The Academy helped me learn how to play with other people in a band setting. I attended college at East Tennessee State University from 2014-2018 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies. If I had not had such a great experience with the Grass Seeds Academy, I don’t think I would have continued to pursue music in the direction that I have. I play upright bass and sing harmony in the band Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, based out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I am still friends with many of the people that I met my first year at the Academy and even went to college with some of them! I will always be thankful for MBOTMA and the Grass Seeds Academy and their continued support of young musicians.’

“MBOTMA is grateful to the IBMA Foundation for your support of this important program. Thank you.”

—Darcy Schatz, MBOTMA Executive Director

Project grant update from the California Bluegrass Association (CBA):

“We were delighted to receive your recent educational grant award of $1,000 for the new ‘Bluegrass Bridge’ program of the CBA. Your support is immensely appreciated and will be instrumental in our launch of the program at Avenal State Prison this summer. We are starting plans for extending the program to two other underserved state prisons in California by 2023. With COVID constraints just now being lifted, we’re working out the logistics for our donation of instruments and instructional materials to Avenal, and we’re starting our plans for on-premises concerts later this year. We look forward to working together with the IBMA Foundation and trading notes as we pursue very similar and complementary goals.”

—Pete Lude, Chairman, California Bluegrass Association

The IBMA Foundation received a hand-drawn thank-you card signed by 24 inmates at Avenal State Prison in Avenal, CA, who are looking forward to the opportunity to learn and play bluegrass music as a part of their recreation program—many of them checking out acoustic instruments for the first time. One said, “Thank you so much for your amazing support of music for us incarcerated men. For many of us, it’s our lifeblood—a positive way to express ourselves. You have my deep respect.”

Another said, “Thank you very much for helping us all keep music in our lives.” And: “Thank you for your contributions to us here at ASP. You just don’t know how appreciated it is.”

RETURN to the May 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.