Molly Johnson, a 16 year old banjo picker from Pumpkintown, SC, has been announced as the recipient of the 2023 IBMA scholarship to attend Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp. Each year the Association pays the tuition for one deserving young player to take part in this camp, which is structured much differently from the typical educational music workshop weekends.
Johnson has been around bluegrass and old time music all her life, and started banjo lessons with the Young Appalachian Musicians program when she was eight years old. Since then private lessons have helped her grow and improve. She has also learned to play old time banjo with the help of her dad, but focuses primarily on the music of Earl Scruggs and Don Reno.
Here is a look at the video she submitted to earn this scholarship.
Of this recent award, Molly tells us…
“I am so excited and grateful for this amazing opportunity. My head was swimming when I first received the news. I’ve heard so many great things about the Blue Ridge Banjo Camp, and I’m really looking forward to learning from these master musicians as well as being around other passionate banjo players. This award from IBMA has provided the ability for me to attend, for which I am very thankful.”
The Camp, which runs August 15-20, is open to all comers, but potential students need to apply and be accepted. Béla wants to make sure that the sort of curriculum he and his staff of all-star faculty present will be of use to attendees before they register. Rather than just focusing on licks and tunes, the BRBC tries to open up the ears of its students, and encourage them to expand the ways they think of banjo music.
Held in Brevard, NC, instructors this year include Tony Trischka, Kristin Scott Benson, Adam Larabee, Greg Liszt, Mark Schatz, and of course, Béla himself.
Here is another video which Molly submitted to IBMA for scholarship consideration.
You can sample more of Molly’s playing at her YouTube channel.
Congratulations Molly Johnson!