Share America Foundation chooses banjo player/vocalist for scholarship

ShareJonathanBarkerAwardThe Share America Foundation, Inc. announced its second 2013 scholarship winner recently at its Sacred Sounds Fridays concert at the Ringgold Depot in Ringgold, Ga.

The events help fund the organization’s Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship. Pearl and Floyd Franks are the late parents and former entertainment managers of actor/entertainer Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night.” The scholarships honor students excelling in the Appalachian musical arts.

Banjo player Jonathan Barker, 19, of Copper Hill, Tenn. was selected as one of the 2013 winners. He is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville studying to be an emergency room physician. He is graduate of Copper Basin High School in Polk County.

“It is a distinct pleasure to be honored by Share America and receive this scholarship,” he said. “I know what a privilege it is to have the support of so many great people who help to make it possible.”

Barker has played banjo for 11 years and also plays guitar and sings lead and harmony parts. He performs regularly with his older brother Jeremy Barker, his parents Scott and Angie and fiddler Westley Harris as The Barker Brothers.

He is the younger brother of 2007 Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholar Jeremy Barker.

“My brother began playing music and I thought that was the greatest thing in the world,” he said.

Since his beginning at age 8, with his family, he has performed numerous concerts including opening for legendary performer Ralph Stanley during his “O’ Brother Where Art Thou Tour.” He won the “Fan’s Choice Award” at Raymond Fairchild’s Maggie Valley Opry. He also added “The Shotgun Red Show” on RFD-TV in 2013 to a long list of television appearances.

“We were honored to present a $500 scholarship to assist him as he continues his college studies,” said Share America Chairman Joe Turner.

Franks said that while the organization normally presents rising freshman, it had no regional applicants this year.

 “We are very excited by this particular scholar because in a way it is a legacy presentation since he is the second in his family to receive it,” he said. “But also knowing we are helping a banjo playing doctor on his way, I know he will make a lot of people feel better whether he plays for them or treats them.”

Barker is the son of Scott and Angie Barker of Copper Hill, Tenn. He is the grandson of Betty and the late Fred Verner of Turtletown, Tenn. and the late Wilford and Ola Barker of Copper Hill. 

The group’s latest CD is “Driven.” For more information about The Barker Brothers, visit

Share America Foundation Board members include Franks, Turner, Gene Lowery, vice chairman; James Pelt, secretary; and Jerry Robinson, Sr., vice president; and Adam Cathey.

The next Sacred Sounds Fridays is Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the Testimony Quartet and special guest Ryan Stinson at the Ringgold Depot. Admission is a $5 donation. Franks will host the event.

For more information about the organization and its programs, contact Share America, P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 or visit or

Photo: ShareJonathanBarkeraward: Jonathan Barker (third from right) receives the 2013 Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship from Randall Franks (second from right). Others joining the presentation are (from left) James Pelt, Share America Foundation secretary; Tom Morgan, entertainer; Joe Turner,  SAF chairman; and Tom Adkins, entertainer. (Share America photo)