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Jo. Co. JAM students earn Wayne C. Henderson scholarship

Johnson County JAM students Nate Combs, guitar, Ikia Combs, fiddle, Cheyenne Combs, banjo, along Peyton Gentry, Hailey Isaacs, Kaleb Jennings, and Chloe Pennington (not pictured) enjoyed the spotlight after receiving a scholarship from the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Committee. Submitted photos.

Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) was proud to announce that seven of its student musicians were awarded scholarships from the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Committee. The students including, Cheyenne Combs (banjo), Ikia Combs (fiddle), Nate Combs (guitar), Peyton Gentry (fiddle), Hailey Isaacs (guitar), Kaleb Jennings (guitar), and Chloe Pennington (fiddle) received more than $2,200 in scholarships. According to JAM officials, the award may be used to pay for individual or group lessons on a traditional acoustic instrument(s) of their choice with instruction oriented toward traditional Appalachian acoustic styles of music.

“Awardees may also use their scholarship toward the cost of attending a traditional music camp,” officials said.

Johnson County JAM had approximately 50 active students during the 2019-2020 program year, which unfortunately had to be cut short this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans, however, are being made for a summer JAM Camp for the end of July. Johnson County JAM will also begin its 5th program-year for 2020-2021 in September.

In the communities of Mountain City, Laurel Bloomery, Butler, Trade, and others, families have played Appalachian mountain music for centuries. Johnson County is home to the oldest fiddlers convention still running on record, held each August in Laurel Bloomery. G.B. Grayson, one of the first old-time musicians to record, was from Johnson County and mentions Laurel Bloomery in his version of “Train 45” in the 1928 recording. Also from Johnson County are legendary old-time musicians, Fred Price, Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley, and Clint Howard, all of whom are famous for playing music with Doc Watson.

On its website, JAM emphasizes ist strong beginning in the fall of 2016 with an eager response of 150 children wanting to sign up. The program was able to take half of those children and is offering lessons in fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and stringboard, as well as an enrichment portion where the kids learn about other aspects of Appalachian culture.

Johnson County JAM is held Tuesday evenings at the First United Methodist Church in Mountain City and is open to all kids in grades 4-12 in the county schools as well as homeschooled families.Applications and more information will be available soon. For more information about the Johnson County JAM program, please email to [email protected]

Johnson County JAM students, top left to right; Peyton Gentry, fiddle, Kaleb Jennings, guitar, Chloe Pennington, fiddle, Hailey Isaacs, guitar along with Ikia Combs, Cheyenne Combs, and Nate Combs (not pictured) were recognized by the Wayne C. Henderson Scholarship Committee for their hard work with a $2,200 scholarship.  Photos submitted