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Appalachian entertainer Randall Franks has a new award and a new film

Written by SGN Scoops on October 6, 2011 – 12:14 pm -

Randall Franks (center) visits with Country Music Hall of Fame members the Statler Brothers, from left, Phil Balsley, Jimmy Fortune, Don Reid and Harold Reid at the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductions ceremony at Dollywood recently. (Photo: Randall Franks

Appalachian entertainer and actor Randall Franks, “Officer Randy
Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” attended a whirlwind of
events in the past few weeks including the National Quartet
Convention, Bill Monroe’s Centennial Celebration, Southern Gospel
Music Association Hall of Fame Inductions, Singing News Fan Awards and
International Bluegrass Music Association Awards and Fan Fest and the
Grand Master Fiddler Championship.

Randall Franks and the Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band was recently
awarded the ASE Bluegrass Band of the Year for 2011.

“It is an honor to be recognized for the efforts you make to create a
unique and meaningful sound with your music,” Franks said. “I am
grateful to all those who care about what I do and I thank you for
your support. I also thank the great musicians which make it

Franks is currently doing a media tour promoting his latest film
“Decision” where he stars with Natalie Grant, Billy Dean and Mike

“This is a heartwarming story of a family overcoming tragedy,” Franks
said. “I am honored to share a special appearance as ‘Principal Nate
Foster’ helping to guide this family in a positive direction.”

The film, the first of five he completed this year, airs Sunday,
October 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. EST on GMC.

Franks has shared interviews with over 1,400 radio stations in
country, folk, bluegrass and gospel music in recent weeks about the
film, working with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and to raise money
for tornado victims in his hometown of Ringgold, Ga.

For more information, visit .

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Buck White honored for perpetuating fiddling

Written by Rhonda on October 31, 2010 – 7:27 pm -

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

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Grand Master Fiddler Championship Crowns 39th Master

Written by Rhonda on October 14, 2010 – 10:14 am -

 The Grand Master Fiddler Champion for 2010 is Justin Branum of St. Louis, Mo. Tashina Clarridge of Roslindale, Mass., previously of Redding, Calif. placed second. The two-day 39th annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship is the nation’s championship event held at the International Bluegrass Music Association Fan Fest in Nashville, Tenn. in early October.
“In my forty-years of association with the Grand Master Fiddler Championship, I have never seen a younger group finish in the top-10 nor the level of competition been keener,” said Howard Harris, GMFC president. “Clearly I am most encouraged by the level of participation by our young people that will ensure the future of fiddling for generations.”
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
Fiddlers competed for over $14,000 in prizes.
Branum took home $2,000 in cash, the bronze Grand Master Fiddler statuette, appeared on the IBMA mainstage, and on the Grand Ole Opry. This was his first Grand Master championship.
Clarridge received $1,500 and a plaque. This was her six consecutive second place showing.
Competitors showed their talents amongst some of the leading performers in acoustic music including the Whites and friends, Brand New Strings, April Fools Old Time String Band, Carpenter and May, Rocky Top Revue Square Dancers, Cathy Roberts, Cadillac Holmes, Aly Sutton, Debra Connelly and Dawn-Joy Thornton.
In honor of its founder, the organization presented the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award to Buck White for his work in support of the traditional art of fiddling.
Actor/entertainer Randall Franks, “Officer Randy Goode” from TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” served as celebrity host for both days of the event with an appearance by Stuart Fryer, Hallettsville, Texas State Championship Fiddler’s Folics director, who hosted the accompanist contest.
“I was enthused by the interest the fiddlers enjoyed from an audience that spanned the globe,” Franks said. “It was a wonderful event. I am honored to stand in the shadows of the great stars that have hosted in the past.”
Other organizers include Grand Master Fiddler Championship vice president Ed Carnes, directors Crystal Plohman, Gayla Tanaka-Bollinger, Alva T. “Trey” McClain, Charlie Smith, Megan Lynch and Bobby Taylor.
Contest judges were Matt Hartz, Junior Marriott, Dale Morris, Jr., Hyram Posey and Bobby Taylor.
Among the sponsors were Choice Food of America, Mayberry’s Finest, Vietti Chili, Carnes Group, IBMA, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Council and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
The other top-10 winners included in descending order: Mia Orosco of Lorena, Texas; Jacie Sites of Idaho Falls, ID; Eischen Harkins of Canon City, Colo.; Jesse Maw of Kalispell, Mont.; Maddie Denton of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; James Schlender of Bozeman, Mont.; Doug Fleener of Leitchfield, Ky. and Adrianna Ciccone of Timmons, Ont., Canada.
Contestants placing 11 through 20 are Greg Henry of Sombra, Ont., Canada; Kimber Ludiker of Somerville, Mass.; Elisha Peter Voetberg of Chehalis, Wash.; Ellie Goodman of Boston, Mass.; Laura Cash of Hendersonville, Tenn.; Isaac Callender of Pendleton, Ore.; Casey Driscoll of Goodlettsville, Tenn.; Paul Lemelin of Sudbury, Ont., Canada; Kerry Varble of Toledo, Ohio; and Tim Hodgson of Victor, Idaho.
Doug Fleener received the Charlie Bush Traditional Fiddler Performance Award from the GMFC presented by the Bush Family – Sam and Janet – in honor of their father late director Charlie Bush.
The Grand Master Traditional Champion is Scott Miller of Ironton, Ohio. Other top five fiddlers were Gailanne Amundson of Longwood, Fla.; Kelsey Wells of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Hillary Bevels of Fayetteville, Tenn. and Natalie Grimes of Avon, Ind.
Winning guitar accompanists are Anthony Mature of New Waverly, Texas; Darin Meeks of  Post Falls, Idaho; Melika Lemelin of Hanmer, Ont., Canada; Joe Sites of Idaho Falls, Idaho and Terry Ludiker of Post Falls, Idaho.
For more info, visit

Photo: Grand Master Fiddler Justin Branum (right) receives the Grand Master Fiddler Trophy from directors Howard Harris (left) and Ed Carnes. (Photo: Randall Franks)

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