Hall of Fame

  2019 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Each year since 1998 has afforded the American Banjo Museum the opportunity to honor the best of the best in our banjo world with induction into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. Originally established as The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame, early honorees were jazz age four-string banjo pioneers as well as the contemporary artists, educators, manufacturers and promoters who carried on the traditions of their predecessors. The museum itself was, in its infancy, an extension of the Hall of Fame. In the years preceding 2014, more than 70 individuals and entities in the four-string banjo world whose career accomplishments might have otherwise gone unrecognized were recognized by the Hall of Fame. As time passed and the museum grew to embrace all types of banjos and playing styles, it became clear that the Hall of Fame should evolve as well.

As such, in 2013, the ABM Board of Directors voted to establish an annual performance category to honor all styles of five-string banjo playing as well as opening the other previously four-string banjo exclusive non-performance categories to all types of banjos. With this move the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame was established. Suggestions for nomination in the categories of Four-String Performance, Five-String Performance, Historical, Education & Instruction, Design & Manufacture and Promotion may be made at any time by any member of the ABM association. Based on these suggestions, nominations are made by the Board of Directors and are then forwarded to the voting body consisting of the museum board, living members of the Hall of Fame and lifetime members of the ABM association.

Like past recipients, Hall of Fame honorees for 2019 have each displayed a lifelong commitment to the banjo in one of five categories. The American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductees for 2019 are:

ALISON BROWN - Five-String Performance - Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Brown began playing banjo at the age of ten. After winning the Canadian National Banjo Championship and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry, she attended Harvard University and, in 1987, was asked to join Union Station. Brown spent three years with Union Station and was named the International Bluegrass Music Association “Banjo Player of the Year” in 1991. The 1990 album I've Got That Old Feeling, which Brown played banjo on, won a Grammy and saw her gravitating toward a blend of bluegrass with jazz and folk idioms in a manner similar to those of Béla Fleck and David Grisman. In addition to performing, Brown is a co-founder of Compass records and has cultivated an impressive repertoire as a record producer

JIMMY MAZZY - Four-String Performance - Mazzy is one of America’s best known traditional jazz banjoists and vocalists and has been a popular attraction in the traditional jazz circuit since the 1970s. Mazzy has performed extensively in the United States and worldwide, regularly appearing at jazz festivals including the Sacramento, San Diego, Essex, and several Connecticut festivals. Mazzy is a member of The Paramount Jazz Band as well as the Wolverine Jazz band and also freelances with other groups including the Yankee Rhythm Kings, the Magnolia Jazz Five, and the Back Bay Ramblers.

JOHN HARTFORD - Historical - An internationally known multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and entertainer, John Hartford became the face of the banjo to a new generation during the 1960s. After penning the megahit Gentle On My Mind, Hartford was a regular guest on the Glenn Campbell Goodtime Hour as well as the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, all of which gave him the financial independence to pursue his passions of music and riverboating. Always musically adventurous, Hartford was a co-founder of the Newgrass movement the late 1960’s while remaining passionate and faithful to his roots in tradition music. With many songs left unsung, Hartford passed away in 2001 at the age of 63.

BOB SNOW / ROSIE O’GRADY’S - Promotion - In 1972 a former Navy pilot and Dixieland jazz trumpet player named Bob Snow opened a jazz club called Rosie O’Grady’s in a derelict area of downtown Pensacola, Florida and established a prototype for urban entertainment complexes around the country. Snow’s own version of the concept known as Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida opened in 1974 with Rosie O’Grady’s Goodtime Jazz Band setting the tempo for years to come. With the banjo being prominently featured in tens of thousands of shows at Rosie O’Grady’s as well as in the company’s advertising, promotion and imagery, literally millions of people enjoyed the music and good-time entertainment associated with the banjo because of Bob Snow’s visionary efforts.

JANET DAVIS - Instruction & Education - Although most associated with the retail music business which bore her name, it is in her role as a musical educator which Janet Davis has made her most lasting contributions to the banjo world. As part of the tiny music instrument and accessory business which she began with her husband, Jim, in 1978, Davis began selling self-produced instructional publications as well. Since then, after establishing herself as a respected clinician and author, appearing at hundreds of musical events around the country as well as regularly contributing to the Banjo Newsletter, Davis has evolved into one of the world’s most prolific authors of banjo instructional publications, with over 100 titles published by Mel Bay Publication alone.

JOHNNY BAIER - Four-String Performance  - Johnny Baier started playing banjo professionally at 15, just two weeks after first picking up the instrument! From “learning as he earned,” leading sing-alongs at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Baier went on to win the Canadian National Banjo Competition in 1983. He subsequently spent three years touring across the U.S. as musical ambassador for the Sara Lee Corporation, prior to settling down in Orlando, Florida. Well known as a crowd pleasing entertainer and virtuoso banjo player - placing him in the ranks of Eddie Peabody, Harry Reser, John Cali and others who inspired him - in 1988 Baier started what would be a 15,000 solo show run at Rosie O’Grady’s in Church Street Station in downtown Orlando (so it’s fitting that Rosie O’Grady’s founder, Bob Snow, will be inducted alongside Johnny this year in the category of Promotion). Performing for years coupled with a constant commitment to learning brought with it an education. Johnny’s historical knowledge and serious journalism skills have brought him international distinction as both the editor of ALL FRETS magazine and his role as Executive Director of the American Banjo Museum.

Alison Brown, Jimmy Mazzy, John Hartford, Bob Snow, Janet Davis and Johnny Baier will be inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame during gala ceremonies to be held on Friday, September 6th, 2019 in Oklahoma City as part of the American Banjo Museum’s BANJO FEST weekend. In addition to the Hall of Fame gala, BANJO FEST will include informal performances, jamming, parties and a very special BANJO FEST concert. With details of this fun-filled weekend still in the works, save the dates of September 5-8, 2019 for BANJO FEST 2019 in Oklahoma City.


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