Woodsongs’ Michael Johnathon receives Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars Mentor Award

Folksinger and roots musician, Michael Johnathon, host of Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, recently became the latest recipient of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars Mentor Award. The Mentor Award is presented annually to individuals in appreciation for their outstanding support and encouragement of young bluegrass musicians. 

On November 29, Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars President, Larry Smith, surprised Johnathon and his crew during a broadcast taping of WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour in Lexington, Kentucky at the Lyric Theater. The show featured an entire lineup of young, aspiring musicians and performers. 

“Michael has been a staunch supporter for young folks for many years,” stated Smith. “We felt he deserved this award for his Woodsongs Kids segment. It has been such an honor for those kids who were invited to be on the show.”

The TBS president continued, “Since our founding 18 years ago by John Colburn, our nearly 450 kids have kept the love of bluegrass music alive. We appreciate the support from folks like Michael who give these kids a chance to show their talents. This award can only show a small portion of our gratitude for Woodsongs Kids.”

Johnathon is the creator and host of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. The weekly live-music program is broadcasted to a radio audience of over two million listeners on 500 public radio stations, public television coast-to-coast, American Forces Radio Network in 177 nations, and the RFD-TV Network.

Johnathon became the second recipient of the award, following Ralph Stanley II. The Woodsongs host also recently received the prestigious Milner Award of the Arts in 2020. 

Born in New York State, Johnathon moved to Laredo, TX, to work at a radio station. At the urging of Pete Seeger, he relocated to Kentucky, learned Appalachian folk traditions and music, and began performing. He is the screenwriter for the upcoming Caney Creek motion picture, a touring songwriter, author of five published books, playwright of the Walden Play performed in 42 countries, composer of the opera, Woody: For the People, and organizer of the national association of front porch musicians called Song Farmer. He recorded a project, Songs of Rural America, with the Ohio Valley Symphony, is a unique musical adventure with songs and stories that shaped a generation, from Appalachia to the Civil War, Henry David Thoreau to Vincent Van Gogh, George Gershwin to Buddy Holly. His latest book, WoodSongs 5, is slated for release in January 2022 along with his 18th studio album, Cosmic Banjo.

“Take the inventiveness of Bob Dylan, the melodic voice of John Denver, add the showmanship of Garrison Keillor, and that’s Michael Johnathon,” stated Bob Spear of Heartland Review.

Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars is a Kentucky-based non-profit organization which supports young, aspiring bluegrass musicians through encouragement, excitement, promotion, and awareness to preserve yesterday’s bluegrass music for tomorrow. TBS provides an environment where young musicians are discovered and valued for their musical abilities in bluegrass music. Most especially, it assures that the legacy of bluegrass music will be shared with current and future generations.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.