Blue Grass Boy, Jim Shumate, Gone at Age 91.

Jim Shumate  (Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Music Trails)  http://ncartstrails.org/blueridgemusic/FeaturedStories/JimShumate.aspxAnother  First-Generation bluegrass legend, Jim Shumate, has passed on.  He was 91.  Shumate died this week at a hospital near his home in North Carolina.

Jim Shumate began playing with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys at the age of 20.  He was with the band from 1943-1945.

It was Shumate who encouraged a young banjo picker by the name of Earl Scruggs to audition for the Bluegrass Boys.

Shumate's main influences were Fiddling Arthur Smith, Curly Fox, and his uncle who played the fiddle while he was growing up. Shumate joined the band after Bill Monroe heard him playing on the radio station WHKY from downtown Hickory, North Carolina, and asked him to join the Blue Grass Boys.

While working with the Blue Grass Boys on the Grand Ole Opry,  Shumate introduced Monroe's songs with a fiddle "kick-off" that quickly become standard practice in bluegrass music. Before that time, “Nobody kicked off a tune with the fiddle 'til I started doing it - Lester Flatt got me to kick 'em off with the fiddle,” Shumate once told an interviewer.

In 1948 when Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs formed the Foggy Mountain Boys, they offered Shumate a job and he played fiddle on the band’s first legendary recording session.

He won the title of  MASTER FIDDLER from the National Fiddlers Convention in 1948. In 1995, he was the recipient of a North Carolina Heritage Award and was inducted into the Blue Ridge Hall of Fame in 2011 along with Emmylou Harris, Jens Kruger, Jim Lauderdale and Willard Watson.

Bluegrass fiddle legend Jim Shumate performing Katy Hill at his induction to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame on June 11th, 2011. Jim is just a few months shy of his 90th birthday here.

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