The competition is national, with 17-year-old Alma Russ of Whittier taking third place. Russ is enrolled at Jackson County Early College and is on track to receive both her high school diploma and associate of arts degree next year. She loves singing, playing fiddle and writing music.
She first became interested in fiddle when she discovered Alison Krauss and started taking lessons at age 12. Originally from Oxford, Florida, she moved to Western North Carolina at 13, and has taken lessons from a number of instructors including most recently, Bobby Hicks. She has two bands, The Colby Deitz Band and Dogwood Winter. She also sometimes plays in other bands where fiddle is needed such as Ol’ Dirty Bathtub, The Breedlove Brothers. She recently recorded fiddle for The Maggie Valley Band’s upcoming album. She also sings and plays claw-hammer banjo. She hopes to have writing as a career in one form or another in addition to a music career.
Volunteer judges are music professionals, who review the students’ entries not only for prize placement, but with an aim to provide encouraging constructive comments. The competition is divided into two categories, Composition and Songwriter, each with a junior and senior division.