Clyde Davenport

Old-time musician, Jamestown
National Heritage Fellowship (1992)
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2007)

Clyde Davenport (1921- ) has lived his entire life on the Cumberland Plateau–on both sides of the Tennessee-Kentucky border—and his music reflects mastery of the instrumental traditions of this unique Appalachian area. Raised by a fiddler and exposed as a boy to deeply historical local tunes, Davenport also heard firsthand the region’s most famous old-time duo, Burnett & Rutherford. He’s preserved a huge repertory from the area’s intersecting musical streams. At one point Clyde played mostly banjo in public, but in his subsequent career he’s become known for his fiddle mastery, in both archaic solo pieces and the smooth style and tune corpus of Leonard Rutherford. Although he has now traveled to perform for knowledgeable heritage music audiences, Davenport mostly performs in private, sharing tunes in his home with students and visitors who often seek him out from great distances.