GLENVILLE, W.Va. – On Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, six legendary figures in bluegrass music were presented with honorary doctoral degrees by Glenville State College at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn.
The ceremony began with a rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Evening Prayer Blues” performed by Luke Shamblin, a former West Virginia mandolin champion and Glenville State College alumni, followed by an introduction given by Glenville State College Bluegrass Music Program Director, Dr. Megan Darby. “It’s an incredible honor to be gathered here and to be working alongside all of the folks that made today possible. Thank you all for sharing this memory with Glenville State College today,” said Darby. “I grew up going to bluegrass festivals and, as my dad always said, this music is in my blood.”
Those recognized included Buddy Griffin, Bobby Osborne, Sonny Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman (accepted on his behalf by Ronnie Reno), and Jim McReynolds (accepted posthumously by his daughter, Jeanine McReynolds Reynolds, and grandson, James). Each received a diploma signifying their status as honorary degree recipients.
The Glenville State College bluegrass band entertained the audience with their renditions of “Dear Old Dixie” and “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” featuring Rebekah Long on bass, Derek Vaden of The Larry Stephenson band on banjo, Luke Shamblin on mandolin, Buddy Griffin on fiddle, and Megan Darby on guitar and lead vocals.
Following the performance, Glenville State College President, Dr. Tracy Pellett, addressed the audience. “We are here to recognize six distinguished legends of bluegrass music,” said Pellett. “The confirmation of these honorary doctorates is about the recognition of the lifelong contributions to traditional bluegrass music and the seen and unseen influence on Glenville State College and one of the only bluegrass education programs in the county. These gentlemen are known and respected by so many across the nation and they are living testaments to the tradition of bluegrass music.”
Pellett detailed the influence that the honorees have had on the bluegrass industry and the time that they have dedicated to advancing and enhancing bluegrass education for generations to come. “[Bluegrass music] is the creation of something special that speaks to us – that shared experience – that strengthens the thread of human connection itself,” said Pellett.
The Larry Stephenson Band was welcomed to the stage to perform an Osborne Brothers classic, “Give This Message to Your Heart” and “Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes,” a big hit for honorees, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, as a tribute to the honorees. In a final number, all performers returned to the stage for a moving performance of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
Glenville State College is proud to honor these legendary figures who have acted as pioneers in bluegrass music and inspired countless individuals along the way. Their contributions to bluegrass music are deeply appreciated and will continue to inspire future students in Glenville State College’s four-year bachelor’s degree in bluegrass, available both in-person and online.
For more information about the bluegrass program at Glenville State College, contact Darby at (304) 462-6347.