Mountain Grown Music - traditional mountain music of Haywood County North Carolina

Carroll Best

Born in 1931 in the same house in Crabtree where he lived in most of his life.

Died in 1995 at age 64.

Began playing in public when he was 10.

Family: wife Louise, son, daughter

Instruments: Banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin. Played traditional old-time mountain music. Mastered a distinctive playing style adapting fiddle tunes to the banjo.

Played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; 1994 winner of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award; faculty member at the Banjo Institute at Cedars of Lebanon, Tenn., in 1990 and 1992; performed with the Masters of the Banjo Tour; played in the Wolf Trap Folk Masters series of 13 radio concerts; local acclaim playing in a band called the Hornpipers, later called the Carroll Best Band; recorded two albums, one in 1982 and 1994; and played on the television show Hee Haw.

Raymond Fairchild

Age 58

Home Canton

Born March 15, 1939, in Cherokee.

Family Wife of 41 years Shirley. Three children; Zane, Mary Sue, and Richard John.

Music Playing banjo since he was 18.

Recipient of the Bluegrass Banjo of the Year award five times. First award 1987. Voted by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America as the WorldÕs Champion Banjo Picker.

Raymond Fairchild and the Maggie Valley Boys voted best Band of the Year (instrumentally) in 1990. His first band, Raymond Fairchild and the Crowe Brothers, formed in 1975.

Two gold albums to his credit for having sold over two million copies of his banjo instrumentals. Recorded more than a dozen albums since the 1960s.

Performed numerous times on the Grand Old Opry Show. First appearance 1979.

Owns and operates the Maggie Valley Opry House. Plays 12-15 dates a year all over the country, but can be seen at the Opry House May through October.

Designed the Cox/Fairchild Banjo.

Member of the Bluegrass Hall of Honor.

Appeared on several television shows and specials for The Nashville Network.

Charles Gidney

Jimmy Haynie

Born Dec. 19, 1924, in Canton; grew up in Fiberville.

Died Aug. 21, 1987, at age 62.

Family: Married Rosa Lee Owenby July 28, 1947; one daughter, Carolyn

Instruments: mandolin, fiddle, guitar and stand-up bass. Perhaps best known for singing folk ballads

Played stand-up bass at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. Named the nationÕs top ballad singer at the National Folk Festival competition in Warrenton, Va., for 1952-53. Performed on radio stations WWNC, WLOS and WISE in Asheville in his early years.

Later performed on WJHO in Opelika, Ala., WSM in Nashville, the National Barn Dance in Chicago and the WLW Midwestern Hayride in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also recorded for Columbia's OK label.

Emceed at the Canton Labor Day festivals and Smoky Mountain Folk festivals and deejayed on Haywood County radio stations WPTL and WWIT.


Ernest Hodges

Born Dec. 26, 1907 near Banner Elk; grew up in Kentucky; lived in Atlanta, Ga., and moved to Waynesville in 1971.

Died Oct. 27, 1984.

Family Wife, Darlene.

Music Began playing fiddle and banjo as a boy. Made his first banjo out of gourd with horsehair strings at 12.

Entered fiddling contests and teamed up with Frank Lewis and Bailey Brisco to travel across the South.

Joined his brother Ralph, a guitarist, and banjo player Johnny Blane to form the Hodges Brothers Band.

Moved to Atlanta in 1934 and studied at the Leffingwell Violin School.

A near-fatal illness cut short his performing career, so he began crafting instruments in Atlanta.

As a music critic for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, his violins won him international acclaim.

In July 1971, he and his wife represented Georgia in the Festival of Folk Life in Washington, D.C.

In 1972, Hodges co-founded the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival in Waynesville, serving as its grand marshall until his death.

David Holt

French Kirkpatrick

Born Oct. 13, 1938, in the White Oak community in west Haywood County. French—as friends know him—was raised with 17 brothers and sisters by his parents, Williams and Alice Kirkpatrick.

Family Wife Judy Kirkpatrick, daughter Alison Bumgardner and son Scott Kirkpatrick.

Music His interest in music blossomed while watching his father play the banjo and continued when he was given the opportunity to play rhythm guitar for his brother Billy Kirkpatrick and Carroll BestÕs band in the early 1950s.

After a short stint on the guitar, French switched to banjo.

Carroll Best, Don Reno and Earl Scruggs were his main influences.

He has played in three bands since 1959: The Mountain Valley Boys; The Tall Timber Grass; and The Different Approach.

Kirkpatrick performed on WNOX-Radio in Knoxville, Tenn., in the 1950s, then on the Ernest TubsÕ Record Shop in Nashville, Tenn., and the New Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Va., in the 1960s.

Kirkpatrick's band opened for Porter Wagner, Don Reno, Red Smiley and Little Jimmy Dickens during the 1960s and 70s.

He has been a judge at the music competitions at the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival for the past 12 years, and judged at the The Fiddlers Grove traditional music festival and competition.

Anne and Rob Lough

John McCutcheon

Dr. Notarly

Panhandle Pete

Born James Howard Nash was born in Buncombe County in 1913.

Died Nash died in Lumberton in 1972.

Music Known for his one-man band and its 32 instruments and gadgets.

Began a one-man comedy act called the Panhandlers.

Took the stage name Panhandle Pete and began performimg a music and comedy act in 1937.

Toured 33 states between 1937 and 1971.

Landed a record deal with Decca Records in 1938.

Played on the Arthur Godfrey and Friends Show in 1953.

Played on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963.

Performed at several festivals including the Canton Labor Day Festival, the Asheville Mountain and Dance Festival and the Western North Carolina Farmers Federation Picnics.

Managed Ghost Town in the Sky's Country Music Show from 1961 to 1971.

Recorded several albums of old-fashioned ballads for the U.S. Library of Congress archives.

Sam Queen

Born 1889 near Maggie Valley.

Died 1969 on his Dellwood Road farm.

Family Wife, Glee Clark Queen; three children, Sam Queen Jr., Richard Queen and Sara Queen Brown; eight grandchildren; Joe Sam Queen, Rachel Queen McKay, Buffy Queen, Jimmy Queen, Sam Queen III, Frank G. Queen, George S. Queen and Suzanne Queen; and six great-grandchildren.

Dancing Queen formed the Soco Gap Dance Team in the 1920s.

He first organized dances in the loft of a barn on Moody Farm, where the Maggie Valley Country Club sits today.

The Soco Gap Dance Team The team danced at the White House in 1939 for the King and Queen of England and President and Mrs. Roosevelt. The team won the first National Square Dance Championship at the first National Folk Festival in St. Louis, Miss. in 1934. They also danced at Carnegie Hall in New York City and at the WorldÕs Fair in the 1930s.

Queen was a founder of the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Folk Festival in Asheville.

Don Reno

Born Feb. 21, 1927, in Spartanburg, S.C.

Died Oct. 16, 1984, in Charlottesville, Va.

Youngest of five children.

Grew up near Clyde.

Formed his first band at 6-years-old. (1933-38)

Performed on WSPA Radio in Spartanburg, S.C. in 1940. Farmer Gray's Early Morning Farm Hour.

Formed the Tapp Brother's Band in 1940. Played on WSPA Radio, WFBC Radio and at area dances.

Played with Tex Wells and his Smoky Mountain Rangers in the early 1940s.

Started a radio show in Asheville on WISE.

Played with Arthur Smith and the Cracker Jacks in 1943 on WSPA.

Joined the U.S. Army in 1944.

Owned and operated a grocery store in Buffalo, S.C. with a brother after his military service.

1946-48 formed the Saddle Pals. Later renames band The Bluegrass, which evolves into the Carolina Hillbillies. These bands played in the area and on local radio shows regularly.

1949-50 formed Don Reno and the Tennessee Cut Ups.

Recorded his first single in 1951 with Red Smiley on King Records. Recorded 16 more songs in 1952. Continued to record with Smiley until 1975.

First release I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map

In 1955 recorded Feuding Banjos with Arthur Smith on MGM Records. Later becomes the theme song of the movie Deliverance and the name changes to Dueling Banjos.

1955 played on Country Time in Washington, D.C. a morning television show.

1955-60 played Top of the Morning Show in Roanoke, Va.

1965 recorded first album on Dot Records.

1969 recorded an album on Rome Records in Columbus, Ohio.

1972 recorded Reno and Smiley Back Together Again for Dick Unteed.

1973 recorded Tally Ho.

1974 recorded Banjo Twin Dixie Break Down.

1975 recorded Rivers and Roads on Monument Records.


Luke Smathers

Born March 24, 1914, in a family with three brothers and one sister.
His father, a carpenter and brick mason, died of a heart attack when Luke was young and his mother, Sarah Smathers, raised the family on a farm in Canton.

Family Bea, Luke's wife of 50 years, died in 1987. The couple had one daughter, Linda, who lives in California.

Music Together with his brothers George, John and Harold, Luke formed The Smathers' Family Band in the late 1920s that solidified into a popular local band by 1930.
After a 25-year hiatus (1943-1968), the band got back together and played in cities nationwide. They won trophies as the most outstanding performer at the 1986 and 1990 Mountain Dance and Folk Festivals in Asheville.

Luke was honored with the N.C. Folk Heritage Award June 10, 1993, along with his brother Harold.

The band's music is called mountain swing, a blend of old-time mountain music and the swing music of the 1920s, '30s and early '40s.

Quay Smathers

Born May 9, 1913, grew up as second youngest of six children; a lifelong resident of Dutch Cove.

Died Jan. 22, 1997.

Family Married to Mary Lee Mease, his first wife. After she died, Quay married Sue Smathers; father of three daughters: Cynthia White of Asheville, Elizabeth Smathers-Shaw of Ohio, June Smathers-Jolley of Canton; one step-daughter, Ina Redemann of S.C.; one grandson, five step-grandchildren, and six step-grandchildren.

Music Began singing Christian Harmony in church as a boy, later played old-time music on tenor banjo and guitar; performed with the Smathers' Family Band in the 1930s and '40s.

Formed the Dutch Cove Old Time String Band with his three daughters in 1973 and two sons-in-law also played in the band. They toured throughout the South and Midwest

Widely known as a master musician and music teacher, he helped preserve the tradition of shape note singing, also known as Christian Harmony; served as the president of the shape note singing at Morning Star United Methodist Church in Canton. Some of his students, such as David Holt and John McCutcheon, have gone on to national fame.

As a master carpenter, he built churches, homes, buildings and furniture for people throughout Western North Carolina.

Recognized in TV documentaries and the Foxfire Books series; winner of the N.C. Folk Heritage Award in 1991, the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award, the Mountain Heritage Award and the Charlotte Folk Music Society Award for the Preservation of Traditional Music

Mack Snodderly

Born Aug. 6, 1937 in Maryville, Tenn.

Family He married Rebecca Buchanan, June 10, 1961; two children, Anna, 26, and Laura, 20.

Music Snoderly began playing the fiddle and the piano at age 6, later taking piano up until high school and then took up violin lessons; performed with local high school band and with the Maryville College orchestra.

After moving from Tennessee to Mars Hill, N.C. and then to Clyde, he joined and played in several bands including the Hornpipers (later called The Carroll Best Band), Doc Snoderly's Painless String Band (later The Painless Band), The Stoney Creek Boys Band and now The Reel Band. Over the years, he cut several records with these bands.

Snoderly performed at numerous church and school events and weddings and with the Junaluska Singers; a featured musician at the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia in Knoxville, one of the nation's largest old-time mountain festivals.

Between 1969 up to the present, he has won first place at more than 60 fiddle festivals in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama. As part of a band, he has won another 24 first-place honors at festivals.

Awards include nine first-place wins at the prestigious Fiddler's Grove Festival in Union Grove, N.C.; declared 'Master Fiddler'after three wins there.

Travis and Trevor Stuart

Jim Trantham

Born Aug. 19, 1931 in Swannanoa, moved to Haywood County in the first grade, now resides in the Center Pigeon community.

Graduated in 1954 with a biology degree from Carson-Newman College and later attended the University of Tennessee before being drafted by the U.S. Army; stationed at Ft. Jackson in S.C. (1955-57). Worked with Pfizer Laboratories, General Electric and Champion International before retiring in 1992.
Spent six months in Cuba in 1953 and was introduced to calypso, reggae and Caribbean music.

Family wife Carolyn and sons Doug, 37, Mark, 33; grandchildren Emily, Adam, Sarah, Jacob and Bryan.

Music Trantham was first attracted to church music as a boy and fell in love with mountain ballads.

Served as musical director for 25 years at various churches across the south, including in Haywood County.

Sang ballads at the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival and the Asheville Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. Trantham played at colleges in east Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky during the 1970s and Õ80s, and sang ballads in the 1982 WorldÕs Fair in Knoxville.

Member of the Southern Highlands Handicraft Guild. For the last 10 years, he has been director of the Village of Yesteryear, a group of about 100 craftspeople from around the state who meet at the N.C. State Fair.

Started making mountain dulcimers in the 1960s and producing them for sale in the 1980s.

Trantham has made banjos, mountain and hammer dulcimers, autoharps and guitars.

The Trantham Family

Johnny Wiggins

Born Nov. 10, 1936, in Robbinsville, N.C. Grew up in the Mills River community of Henderson County along with eight brothers and sisters.

Died Jan. 30, 1993.

Family Wife, Judy Wiggins and children: Leigh Anne, John, Audrey and Amy. Four grandchildren.

Music First performed on WLOS Radio in 1952 when he was 16, with banjo player Ray Wines.

Played with The Billy Jack Wills Band in 1953.

Played on an early morning television program, the Casey Clark Show, based in Michigan in 1954.

Founded The Country Boys in 1954 along with Kenneth Rhodes. Recorded a single on the independent record label Cactus Records in 1956.

Signed his first record deal in Nashville, Tenn., in 1959 with Denny's Artist Bureau, as the company's first artist on the Dollie Record Label and recorded four singles.

In 1960-61, he was the first to sign a recording deal with Mel Tillis'label.

Featured as The Singing Bus Driver,with Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours from 1962 to '65. Recorded three albums with Tubb.

Helped found the Stompin'Grounds in Maggie Valley in 1982. Performed there with his daughter Audrey and son John for eight years. Continued to perform throughout WNC up until his death.

Michael Youngwood

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