Country music star Dolly Parton recently received the Dr. Perry F. Harris Award.
The Grand Master Fiddler Championship. Inc. presents the honor to individuals who have had a lasting impact on the fiddling art form. The award is named for the late Grand Master Fiddler Championship founder Perry Felton Harris, M.D., D.D.S, Colonel U.S.A.F., who convinced the Grand Ole Opry’s E.W. Bud Wendell that the organization needed a fiddle contest.
His son Howard Harris serves as president for the non-profit. His late father gathered Howdy Forrester, Roy Acuff, Johnny Gimble and others together to come up with a list of those to be invited to compete in the first Grand Master to be held in June 1972.
The first contest was held in the parking lot of Opryland USA, now Opry Mills, under a tent since the park was not ready for visitors. Vernon Solomon of Texas was crowned champion and appeared with Roy Acuff on his live radio show that Saturday night. Thus, began a tradition of the Champion playing the Saturday night Opry that continues today.
Ms. Dolly has been associated with the Grand Master Fiddler Championship since it’s beginning in 1972. Dolly has been consistent in her support of fiddling for over forty-years and former Grand Master champions have played in her band and on her CDs all along the way; most notably Mark O’Connor and Jimmy Mattingly. We are grateful for Dolly’s support and look forward to many more years of her producing fine music. Howard Harris.
The contest was held in Opryland from 1972 through 1997 with the preliminaries held in the historic Ryman Auditorium. The organization now hosts the annual event each year as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association Bluegrass Fan Fest in Nashville, Tenn. welcoming fiddlers from around the world wishing to gain the world’s highest fiddling honor.
For more info, visit www.grandmasterfiddler.com.