The Boston Bluegrass Union has announced the 2015 recipients of their BBU Heritage Awards. These awards are presented annually to honor artists and others who have made substantial contributions to bluegrass music in New England and beyond.
For 2015, the winners are Berklee College of Music in the Industry category, and The White Brothers, Roland, Eric and Clarence. Berklee is being recognized for their greatly increased concentration on bluegrass in the course of study they offer to promising young musicians from all over the world. In recent years the school has begun to admit students of all the bluegrass instruments to follow Berklee’s unique path. Not only can banjo, mandolin, guitar, and fiddle players enroll and focus on their primary instrument, bluegrass ensembles are offered to all students who wish to study America’s thriving folk styles.
The White Brothers made their mark on bluegrass as individuals and as a group. Though many associate them with Southern California, where their music bloomed professionally, the Whites were raised in Maine as youngsters before the family moved west in the 1950s. They performed for a while as The Country Boys, but made their biggest impact together under the name Kentucky Colonels. National attention followed after they were featured on the Andy Griffith Show. Clarence’s untimely death in 1973 ended the career of the most promising young bluegrass guitarist ever to pick a string, though he had begun to move away from bluegrass by that time. Brother Roland continued in bluegrass working for a time with Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt before leaving a lasting mark on The Country Gazette and The Nashville Bluegrass Band.