Casey Henry remembers Louise Scruggs

This post is a contribution from Casey Henry. Casey is the daughter of banjo player Murphy Henry, and is an accomplished banjo player in her own right, as well as an instructor. Currently Casey and her brother Chris are fronting a band called The Two-Stringers.

The first time I met Louise Scruggs was in an elevator at IBMA in Louisville. It must have been the Thursday of the Awards Show. I had gone up to my room to grab a banjo and a guitar and was rushing toward the elevator, out of breath, one instrument in each hand. Someone held the door for me and when the doors closed behind me the first person I saw was Louise. I had never seen her in person before, but she looked right at me and said “Casey.” I answered, “Louise.” And we shook hands. And then I turned to Earl and shook hands with him. I was so excited. How she recognized me I don’t know, but I do know she kept up with everything that was going on in the bluegrass world. She always read the current publications, Banjo Newsletter, BU, and didn’t miss a thing. When Murphy once wrote in her BNL column about a picture of Earl’s right hand that someone had given her, Louise called up the photographer and wanted to know where her copy of the picture was.

Murphy and I were lucky to have had the opportunity to visit Earl and Louise’s house in Madison, before they moved down to the huge mansion. Earl answered the door, Louise brought us Coke to drink, and after we had visited for a while it was she who asked if we wanted to play Earl’s banjo.

Maybe my favorite memory is when we both happened to be at a baby shower for Don and Tina Rigsby at Tom T. and Dixie Hall’s house. I sat next to Louise as Tina was opening presents. We found common ground in the fact that neither of us really knew Tina. When Louise got up to get more punch, Don came over and was about to sit in her seat. I had to tell him, “Louise was sitting there.” So when she got back I told her I’d saved her seat for her. She appreciated that.

At Earl’s 80th birthday reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame I made a point to tell her that I liked her jacket, which was a beautiful burgundy color and a stylish cut. I think the last time I saw her was when Berklee School of Music awarded Earl an honorary doctorate last year. She didn’t look as well as she had in the past but, as always, she and Earl looked pleased to get a huge standing ovation from the crowd. She was a unique person, and a pioneering woman in the music business. Her contributions deserve to be recognized and she greatly deserves a place in the IBMA’s Hall of Honor.