Steve Martin Banjo Prize Goes to Kristin Scott Benson

by | 27 Sep, 2018

Kristin Scott Benson
Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson, of the Grascals, is the 2018 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. The award was founded by actor, comedian, and musician, Steve Martin, and is meant to bring national attention to those who are masters of the banjo. Funded by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation, the award includes a $50,000 cash prize and an original sculpture from Eric Fischl.

Kristin Scott Benson is a veteran banjo player from South Carolina. She is a four-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year, a five-time Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) Banjo Player of the Year, and is celebrating ten years as a member of the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals. A graduate of Nashville’s Belmont University, Benson has previously performed with Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, The Larry Stephenson Band, Petticoat Junction and more.

For over a decade, Kristin has remained one of bluegrass music’s premier banjo players, quickly tossing the ill-advised “pretty good for a girl” caveat aside.

There was one grass ceiling no woman could cut through, until Kristin Scott Benson came along, that is. Almost two years ago, she joined The Grascals. Not to front the band, not to sing, not to be eye candy, but instead to drive the group with her five-string banjo. Until then, no woman had ever been hired to play one of the most defining of the bluegrass instruments in an A-list, festival-headlining, all-male band….It’s a high-profile gig, as Kristin takes the banjo where no woman has taken it before – Larry Nager Bluegrass Unlimited.

A banjo hero to pickers male and female alike, Kristin is known above all as a hard-working, generous, humble and kind human being, whose love for the banjo is only topped by her love for people. She resides in South Carolina with her husband, Wayne, and their son, Hogan.

My family and I are overwhelmed with gratefulness! Getting to know my banjo heroes, many of whom are on the board, is prize enough, but Steve Martin’s graciousness is a huge blessing. We don’t know how to adequately say thank you for something like this – Kristin Scott Benson.

2018 has already been an exciting year for Benson. She served as an instructor Kristin seeks to win her fifth Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association this Thursday, September 27th during the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show in Raleigh, North Carolina. She and The Grascals are also nominated for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year for their tune, Lynchburg Chicken Run.

The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass is voted on by a panel of experts in the field, which includes banjo masters J.D. Crowe, Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, Noam Pikelny, and Steve Martin, among others.

Learn more about Kristin Scott Benson at More information about the Grascals can be found at