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 2021 scholarship is June 1, 2021.

Go here to apply for the fall 2021 Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship. 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

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