Buck White honored for perpetuating fiddling

Grand Ole Opry star Buck White of The Whites recently received the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award. The Grand Master Fiddler Championship. Inc. presents the honor to individuals who have had a lasting impact on the fiddling art form. The award is named for the late Grand Master Fiddler Championship founder Perry Felton Harris, M.D., D.D.S, Colonel U.S.A.F., who convinced the Grand Ole Opry’s E.W. “Bud” Wendell that the organization needed a fiddle contest. His son Howard Harris serves as president for the non-profit. His late father gathered Howdy Forrester, Roy Acuff, Johnny Gimble and others together to come up with a list of those to be invited to compete in the first Grand Master to be held in June 1972, he said. The first contest was held in the parking lot of Opryland USA, now Opry Mills, under a tent since the park was not ready for visitors, he said. “Vernon Solomon of Texas was crowned champion and appeared with Roy on his live radio show that Saturday night,” he said. “That began a tradition of the Champion playing the Saturday night Opry that continues today. “Buck White actually played behind Vernon in that contest,” he said. “He and his late wife Pat supported this event throughout its history. Buck, Cheryl and Sharon have shared their talents for the event again and again through the years. But most of all Buck loves fiddling; he loves the people who continue this tradition. Throughout his career, he has put fiddling in front of millions of fans through his music.” White said he was honored to receive the award and feels his role towards fiddlers is as an encourager. “That was a big thing for me because I wanted to fiddle,” he said. “I got a hold of those Tommy Jackson records in late forties and tried to learn all those. I was a lover of those fiddle tunes – the breakdowns. White is best known for his musical talents on mandolin and piano. “My wife hid the fiddle from me,” he said. “I was wearing her out with it.” She just told me she had to have some relief, he joked. “I have always tried to encourage old-time fiddling and loved to sit-in and play with fiddlers,” he said. “It would be ashamed if it got lost, I don’t believe it will because so many kids are playing now especially in the northeast. “It’s not going to be a lost art and I am so happy about that,” he said. “There are kids playing the dog out of those tunes.” The Grand Master Fiddler Championship, Inc. is a Tennessee non-profit and a U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, formed to educate about and perpetuate fiddling as an art form and cultural treasure. The contest was held in Opryland from 1972 through 1997 with the preliminaries held in the historic Ryman Auditorium. The organization now hosts the annual event each year as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association Bluegrass Fan Fest in Nashville, Tenn. welcoming fiddlers from around the world wishing to gain the world’s highest fiddling honor. For more info, visit www.grandmasterfiddler.com.