Owen Schinkel accepts 2017 Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship

Share America officers award Owen Schinkel the the 2017 Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship:
James Pelt, Randall Franks, Owen Schinkel, Gary Knowles and Jimmy Terrell. Photo by Ryan Stinson

The Share America Foundation has chosen Owen Schinkel, a first year student in the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University, to receive their 2017 Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship. He is a visiting student from The Netherlands.

The scholarship is administered by fiddler and television entertainer, Randall Franks, in honor of his parents. Readers will recall Franks from his role as Officer Randy Goode in the TV program, In the Heat of the Night, which ran from 1988 to ’95 on NBC and CBS successively. The show, which starred Carroll O’Connor, is still broadcast in re-runs on multiple networks in the United States.

Owen accepted a check for $1250 on July 7 in a presentation at the Ringgold Opry in Georgia. He also performed for the crowd on his reso-guitar, and shared a few words about how he came to be there.

“I fell in love with mountain music when I was 16 years old, it changed my life. I stumbled over a video from Jerry Douglas and Dan Tyminski playing the song The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn on the Transatlantic Sessions.

After doing some research I found out that Jerry was playing a Dobro. I immediately fell I love with the sound of the Dobro, and knew I wanted to play that instrument. I purchased a Dobro and started my journey. Several years of practice brought me where I am now: The United States of America. A part of the study at East Tennessee State is the participation in student (bluegrass) bands.”

Owen was extremely grateful to the Foundation for their financial support.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity that Share America and all those who support its efforts have given to me.

The focus is preserving the Appalachian traditions and culture, and of course, its music. Moving to East Tennessee and studying Bluegrass, Old Time and Country music is a big step in my career learning and understanding this Appalachian music and its culture.

I’ve got two main education goals for the time I am in the United States. One is to become a master on my instrument by playing with a lot of people in a lot of different situations. ETSU is actually making this possible. Before I was never able to play serious bluegrass music with people from my age. While here, I’m jamming almost every day. I’m thinking about missing this when I move back to Holland again.”

The other is to build a network of friends among the performers and promoters in the States, to help him increase the popularity of traditional Appalachian music back home in Holland.

Hats off to Franks and the Share America Foundation, and congratulations to Owen Schinkel both for his scholarship, and for his tremendous accomplishments in bluegrass in just a few years’ time. I’m sure we’ll be hearing his name in the future.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.