North Carolina Arts Council

Raymond Fairchild Creates His Own Style of Playing the Banjo

Bluegrass banjo player Raymond Fairchild of Haywood County, North Carolina, embodies the spirit of originality found in many of the best mountain musicians. He has always done things his own way. His “Fairchild” style has gained countless admirers over the course of a long music career. Raymond has played many times at the Grand Ole Opry, and recorded more than 20 albums—two of which have sold more than a million copies each.

The Primitive Quartet began in 1973, when two sets of brothers, Reagan and Larry Riddle and Furman and Norman Wilson, carried a guitar and mandolin with them on a fishing trip to Fontana Lake. The boys all sang at home and in church, but that night in Graham County was when they first sang in four-part harmony. After the fishing trip, with the encouragement of their parents and pastor, they began to sing together at area churches.

Arvil Freeman
Blue Ridge National heritage Area

Master fiddler Arvil Freeman of Madison County has married elements of old-time and bluegrass in his distinctive “long-bow” style of playing. As a veteran performer and a longtime teacher, Arvil was honored with the 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award, the state’s highest honor for traditional artists.

The Podcast

Nina Simone became one of the iconic singers of jazz and soul of the 1960s and a strong voice for Civil Rights. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, N.C., playing piano and singing in her church choir. The "Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina" podcast highlights bluegrass and old-time music stories, performers, and traditions across the mountain and foothills counties of Western North Carolina.