Violet Hensley, who has entertained visitors at Silver Dollar City since 1967, has released an account of her 97 years on earth called Whittlin’ and Fiddlin’ My Own Way: The Violet Hensley Story. Written with Randall Franks, the book follows Violet from her youth in Arkansas, raising 9 children in hard times, to a career as a fiddle builder and player amidst international acclaim.
She was “discovered” by fellow Arkansan Jimmy Driftwood who suggested that she be featured at the then-new Silver Dollar City attraction near Branson, MO. At that time, the focus was on presenting as a rustic frontier town, and Violet was perfect making fiddles by hand in the crafters part of the park.
For nearly 50 years she has been a popular stop for tourists at Silver Dollar City, whittlin’ and playin’ fiddles, and telling her stories. The park has put her forward for years on television as an example of an authentic Ozark native, and Hensley is beside herself seeing her story now offered in print.
“I never thought I would be writing about my life, my music and my fiddle making. I could have never dreamed coming from a farm in the backwoods of Arkansas that the things I learned on that farm would make me a TV personality and gain me fame around the world.”
Here she is at work in Branson, playing one of her fiddles…
Whittlin’ and Fiddlin’ My Own Way runs to 258 pages, including 145 photos. It can be purchased from popular online booksellers, or from Violet directly at her web site.