Sammy Shelor is the recipient of the second annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Sammy is the extraordinary banjoist for the Lonesome River Band, playing contemporary, tradition-based Scruggs-style banjo with impeccable timing, drive, and a master’s touch. His leadership of the Lonesome River Band has kept them at the top of the bluegrass field for over two decades. He is a member of the Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and has been honored four times by the International Bluegrass Music Association as Banjo Player of the Year.
The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass has been created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music. It is hoped that by highlighting the extraordinary musicianship of these artists, that bluegrass, and bluegrass-related music will enjoy an increased appreciation world-wide.
The prize is awarded to a person or group who has given us a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation. The winner should be professional or semi-professional, should be currently active in their careers and deserving of a wider audience.
The honoree will receive an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created expressly for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl.
The award is determined through a private process by a board consisting of Earl Scruggs, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck and Steve Martin. The award is funded personally by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation.
Additionally, Sammy Shelor and the Lonesome River Band will perform with Steve Martin on “Late Show With David Letterman” on Thursday, November 3.