Kristin Scott Benson to receive SC Folk Heritage Award

The South Carolina Arts Commission and the and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum have announced that Kristin Scott Benson is one of the recipients of the 2020 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards.

Benson had this to say in reaction the news …. 

“I was extremely humbled when I heard from Laura Green at the SC Arts Commission. Preserving our music is important to me, and it’s wonderful to associate with organizations that are committed to the same thing. I love bluegrass banjo and want to see it thrive!”

The South Carolina Arts Commission posted this brief biography  …. 

“Kristin Scott Benson was first nourished in her music tradition by her musician father and her grandfather, Orval Hogan, who played mandolin with the WBT Briarhoppers. Growing up in South Carolina’s Upstate region, where bluegrass was part of the local culture, she started on the mandolin at five years old, and by age ten was drawn to the banjo. Her mentor, Al Osteen, a revered banjo picker and teacher, taught Benson to not only play, but how to “think and listen.” She passes this solid foundation, along with her extensive experience, on to her own students. Benson first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at age 19 and has since played there over 100 times. She has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year four times, and in 2018 received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. She has played with the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals, since 2008.”

It should be added that she helped The Grascals take the IBMA Entertainers of the Year award on two occasions. 

Benson’s most recent solo recording entitled Stringworks (Mountain Home Records) was released in July 2016. The original opening track, Great Waterton, was nominated for IBMA’s Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year.

She resides in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, close to her original home in the Carolinas. 

The other 2020 recipients of the South Carolina Folk Heritage Award are David Galloway (Artist, Spiritual Gospel Singing); Voices Of El Shaddai (Artist Organization, Lowcountry Gospel Music); Judy Twitty (Artist, Quilting); and Vennie Deas Moore (Advocacy, Folklore and Cultural Preservation). 

These awards will be presented the South Carolina Arts Awards on Wednesday, May 6 (2020) at the Pastides Alumni Center at the University of South Carolina (900 Senate Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201). 

A ticketed celebratory luncheon will begin the festivities at 11:30 a.m., before the free, public ceremony at 1:00 p.m. 

Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through or by calling 803-734-8696.  

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.