A Fan Letter
Thanks for being so generous all through the years, both with your music and with yourself! I "discovered" your web site today and wanted to add my voice to the throngs of people who are forever in your debt for inspiring us to be better banjo players and better people.
I am the president of the Grammy-winning organization, The Washington Chorus. We sing the "heavy" stuff - lots of Requiems and masses - with the National Symphony here in DC. I got to sing at "A Capitol Fourth" last summer, and I met Earl Scruggs and Tim O'Brien, truly a thrill for me. One of the things that I like best about the organization is that we have a community outreach chorus that performs at nursing homes and hospitals. Last year, five of us in the outreach group jointly discovered that we were all closet bluegrass fans. As luck would have it, we also play the requisite variety of instruments - guitar, banjo (me), mandolin, autoharp, and bass - so we formed a group. We call ourselves "Don't Tell Bob", Bob Shafer being the music director of the chorus, because we weren't sure what his reaction would be to having a bluegrass group operating sub rosa in the chorus!
We had our biggest gig last night, playing at an annual Barn Dance fundraiser for the Chorus at the Kiplinger estate outside Washington. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was in attendance and she danced up a storm. I feel I can truthfully say now that I am one of very few banjo players alive who has played to accompany a Supreme Court Justice's dancing!
I do want to say "thank you" for your tip on not singing while playing. I really noticed how much of a difference that made last night. Normally, I sing bass in the chorus of a song, but the square dance caller last night jumped in and sang bass along with us. That allowed me to concentrate on playing, and boy oh boy, did that ever make a difference. I felt I had never played so well!
Anyway, thanks again for everything. Your playing never fails to put a smile on my face and bring joy to my heart.
God bless you, Dr. Banjo!
Jonathan H. Ward, Director, The Americas and Asia
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