Bayla Davis on From The Top

We posted several times about young North Carolina banjo player Bayla Davis, particularly about her being featured on From The Top, a program that typically highlights teen classical musicians on the rise. Her recent segment was only the second time they had focused on a traditional music artist, and we thought that was worthy of notice.

Bayla performs with her two younger siblings as a member of Newfound Gap, a bluegrass/old time band who performed just recently at MerleFest.

This week, Davis shared this statement on social media, encouraging other young traditional music artists to consider applying to be part of From The Top.

“Last winter, I was chosen as a From the Top fellow. This was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to complete an online curriculum spanning 12 hours over four weeks and record a solo performance at Echo Mountain Studio and interview for From the Top’s national radio program and podcast which released this week.

I applied during the application period that allowed applicants to apply for FREE. However, if the application fee is a barrier to youth musicians applying, they can also apply for a need-based scholarship, the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award.

We are learning to recognize that not all opportunities are what they seem. My siblings and I, with our parents’ support, have withdrawn from programs and showcases that say they promote youth musicians when, actually, they require significant investments of time and money, creating economic hardships to many families and inequities, with little to no benefit to the youth performer, while also interfering with our public-school education and our parents’ teaching schedules.

We have written about this before. Too often, young musicians are given the impression that if we participate in this program or this performance, it’s going to be our only opportunity. I am only sixteen, but I can tell you that I have never paid for any opportunity that actually benefited me as a musician, aside from lessons and camps, and I am so grateful for those opportunities like The Fine-Tuned Project and From the Top. We receive scholarships for the summer camps that we are able to attend. We receive scholarships for our lessons. We don’t invest in merchandise because we are young musicians having fun, we don’t pay to play, and we choose, instead, to invest in learning opportunities. Last summer, I enrolled in four free classes at Berklee. We are very privileged to have these opportunities.

I encourage any youth musician to apply. I am the second traditional musician to be accepted, but they do accept traditional musicians not only classical students.”

Good advice!

Here is her segment on From The Top, where she plays with two of her instructors, Jerry Sutton (Bryan’s dad) and Josh Goforth, and chats with the show’s hosts about her music.

Well done Miss Davis!

Next week’s episode of From The Top will include a segment on Wyatt Ellis.More on that Monday.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.