Riley Gilbreath wins Texas State Banjo Championship

When young Riley Gilbreath first came to the attention of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, he was just a 12 year old kid from Fort Worth, TX. He had applied for a starter banjo loaner through the Foundation’s Play It Forward program, designed specifically to get decent student instruments into the hands of interested young pickers.

A year later, Riley was doing so well that he was awarded the BHF’s Vincent Memorial Scholarship Program so that he could attend the 2017 Acoustic Music Camp in Dallas.

The progress continued, so later that year the Foundation, along with Gilbreath’s parents and Steve Huber of Huber Banjos, arranged to present Riley with a new Huber Workhorse banjo at the 2017 Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival.

Skip ahead two more years, and Riley has become a truly formidable banjo picker. Just 15 years old, he took first place in the Texas State Banjo Championship, and will represent Texas at the National Banjo Championship in Winfield, KS in September.

And all because the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation was there to lend Riley a starter banjo when the inkling first came to him. Remember that when you hear appeals from organizations like the Foundation or other groups working to help spread bluegrass into the next generation. It is your donations that make programs like Play It Forward possible.

Many congratulations to Riley and his parents, and to Alan Tompkins, Steve Huber, and the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation for playing a part in this rising young picker’ development!

Here’s a video from 2017 when Gilbreath first got his Huber banjo.

Well done all!

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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.