Sandra Gilliam and Colton Wrisner have been selected as the 2012 winners of the Macon-Doubler Fellowship. The award is part of the educational outreach of Uncle Dave Macon Days and its mission to perpetuate old-time music and dance.
Gilliam grew up in the Hollow Springs area of Cannon County. As a child, the late Bernice Spry, a Nazarene minister, taught her to play a piano. Today, she is a nurse practitioner at the Bedford County Health Department in Shelbyville.
A ninth-grader at Warren County High School in McMinnville, Wrisner was captivated by the sound of the fiddle when he attended the Mountaineer Festival at Fall Creek Falls State Park with his parents, Kevin and Leigh Wrisner.
“I had heard a lot of this style music on the radio,” said the 15-year-old. “But after seeing a band jamming in person, I decided I was going to learn to play the fiddle. Someday I hope to teach my children and grandchildren to play.”
The fellowship was endowed in 1998 by the family of the late Alvin Doubler and his wife, Mary Macon Doubler, granddaughter of Uncle Dave Macon. Additional funds came from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science Foundation, in the form of a Discover GRAMMY Festival grant and others.
The purpose of the scholarships is to provide beginning musicians an opportunity to study with master teachers. A criterion as a beginner is based on ability and not age. This year’s recipients will be the students of Becky Buller, an award-winner performer, song writer, teacher and mentor.
Fellowship applicants must submit a one-page essay, in addition to their application form, explaining why they want to study traditional music and what they would do with their new skill.
“I am 56 years of age and just beginning to experience this new arena of music. I have a long way to go. . . . However, music is ageless,” said Gilliam, a Manchester resident. “Perhaps my music will someday help lighten the load of a weary one, bring a smile to a saddened countenance or bring memories of a time when family traditions were treasured and music pulled everyone together.”
The 35th annual Uncle Dave Macon Days, a traditional old-time music and dance festival held July 13-15, will take place at historic Cannonsburgh Village, 312 N. Front Street. Gates open Friday at 1 p.m. The three-day event features highly charged contests with more than $10,000 in prizes. It is the home to the national championships in old-time banjo, buckdancing and clogging. Enjoy arts and crafts, Saturday’s “Motorless” parade, shade-tree jamming, concessions, gospel singing in the chapel, living history demonstrations, a historic photo exhibit and more. Admission charged on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is free and features a gospel and shape-note singing and a Community Service Fair. For more information visit www.uncledavemacondays.com or www.facebook.com/UncleDaveMaconDays or call (615) 893-2369 or 1-800- 716-7560.