It sounds like a movie script, doesn’t it. A beauty queen from the western part of the state wins the Miss Kentucky pageant, playing bluegrass fiddle for her talent competition. But that’s just what happened for Ramsey Carpenter when Miss Kentucky 2014 was announced in Lexington on July 12.
In her fourth year competing, and her last before being aged out, this recent University of Kentucky grad brought her love of bluegrass music to the pageant stage and carried home the crown.
It was something she had envisioned for several years, and worked hard to see realized.
“This is a dream I have been after for a long time. I did county fair pageants as a girl, but when I got into college and started researching Miss America, and found out they were the biggest awarders of scholarships for women in the country, I started taking it a lot more seriously.
I am very excited because I will be able to play fiddle on the national stage at the Miss America pageant.”
And she has an unmistakable advantage in the fact that there will be no other violinists among this year’s contestants.
It was the fiddle and bluegrass music that called to Carpenter long before the glitz and glamour of the pageant world. Growing up in Western Kentucky, bluegrass was all around her, but at eight years old she heard something that made quite an impression.
“I was drawn to Alison Krauss as a child. She has the voice of an angel. When I found out that I couldn’t sing like she did, I figured I had better learn to play fiddle!”
By the time Ramsey was a teen, she had hooked up with a group of young men her age who played bluegrass, and they performed together as County Line Bluegrass. There she developed a stage presence and began to earn a reputation as a poised and lovely young lady, as well as a capable fiddler.
The band performed at festivals and other engagements while she was in high school and college, including playing in the competitions at Silver Dollar City in nearby Missouri. Other highlights include entertaining at the premiere party for the film Secretariat, and picking in the Governor’s Mansion.
Ramsey says that she hasn’t had time to play much bluegrass this Summer, what with preparing for the pageant, and if she wins Miss America, she’ll spend a year living in New York City and traveling around the country. But if not, she promises to bring her fiddle to all her appearances as Miss Kentucky.
On September 14, you can catch Ramsey and her fiddle in the Miss America pageant on the ABC television network. For the talent portion of her competition, she’ll play the same medley of Sally Good’n and Orange Blossom Special that brought down the house in Lexington last month.
After her reign is complete, she will look for a teaching job in the Kentucky school system, and possibly pursue a Masters degree in education.
Oh… and keep on playing the fiddle.
Good luck Ramsey Carpenter!