bluegrass musician, Nashville
National Heritage Fellowship (1982)
Known as “The Father of Bluegrass Music,” Bill Monroe (1911-1996) was among the first group of National Heritage Fellowship recipients. Born in Kentucky, Monroe was based in Nashville for most of his very long career after joining the the Grand Ole Opry in 1939. He named his band “The Blue Grass Boys” after his home state, and the term gradually became associated with the type of music he developed and popularized. Under Monroe’s leadership and his excellence as a mandolin player, singer, and writer, bluegrass evolved into a rigorous new variety of music that reinvigorated Appalachian string band and vocal traditions for modern musicians and audiences.