Born in 1952 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Sam Bush is associated with the creation of the Newgrass style. Bush is a bluegrass artist that has been performing since he was a teenager. As a young adult, he was the three-time winner of the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest junior division in Weiser, Idaho. In 1969, he joined together with his mentor Wayne Stewart and banjoist Alan Munde for the instrumental album Poor Richard’s Almanac. In 1970, he attended the Fiddlers Convention hosted in Union Grove, North Carolina, where he was awestricken by the progressive bluegrass sound of New Deal String Band, inspiring him to move to Louisville, where he joined the Bluegrass Alliance. The following year, the band broke up and reformed as New Grass Revival.
New Grass Revival released fifteen albums from 1972 to 2005. As a solo artist, Bush released an additional eight albums, four of which found their way into the Top 10 on the U.S. Bluegrass charts. Bush’s debut album was released in 1985, Late as Usual. Bush has also worked with Grand Ole Opry member Emmylou Harris as her musical director for her Nash Ramblers acoustic band.
In 1998, Bush’s hometown honored him with a special “Sam Bush Day” celebration. In 2010, the town was named the “Birthplace of Newgrass” and Bush was named the “Father of Newgrass.” Bush has hosted both the 22nd annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards at the Ryman Auditorium and the 2007 IBMA Awards at the Grand Ole Opry House.
He has also been gifted with the Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist award by the Americana Music Association. IBMA has named him the Mandolin Player of the Year in ’90, ’91, ’92 and ’07. Bush has also received three Grammys, for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (with Emmylou Harris and Nash Ramblers), for Best Pop Instrumental Performance (with Béla Fleck & The Fleckstones), and for Album of the Year (with artists like Alison Krauss & Union Station, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Ralph Stanley and Tim Blake Nelson). In 2006, Bush was nominated for Best Country Instrumental Performance for his work on Who’s Your Uncle with Jerry Douglas and Béla Fleck.
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