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Steve Martin Banjo Prize

Originally conceived of and launched in 2010 by comedy legend and banjo player Steve Martin, the Banjo Prize has put half a million dollars into the banjo community over the past decade with an unrestricted $50K award given annually to a master bluegrass or old time banjo player. Past winners are some of the instrument’s brightest stars and include Rhiannon Giddens, Noam Pikelny, Jens Kruger and Kristin Scott Benson. 

At the end of 2019, having fulfilled its initial mission of giving ten awards, Martin and the board determined that the Banjo Prize needed a new vision and infrastructure to move forward. That’s when the Freshgrass Foundation stepped in to co-fund the prize and provide the administrative backend to help carry the prize into its second decade. FreshGrass is thrilled and honored to play a part in this next iteration of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize.  As a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to preserve, support and create innovative grassroots music, we can’t think of a better way to fulfill our mission than to assist in carrying on the amazingly generous and cool tradition that is the Steve Martin Banjo Prize.

Going forward, the new Banjo Prize will be an annual award of $25K to one or more banjo players across the stylistic spectrum including both 5 and 4 string banjo masters. However, in light of the tremendous need in the musical community this year, the 2020 prize will be $50K split equally between 5 banjo players. You can view and learn more about the 2020 Banjo Prize winners below!

Prize Winners

Catherine "BB" Bowness
2020: Catherine "BB" Bowness
Jake Blount 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner
2020: Jake Blount
Gerry O'Connor 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner
2020: Gerry O'Connor
Buddy Wachter 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner
2020: Buddy Wachter
Matthew Davis 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner
2020: Matthew Davis
2019 Prize Winner: Victor Furtado
2019: Victor Furtado
2018 Prize Winner: Kristin Scott Benson
2018: Kristin Scott Benson
2017 Prize Winner: Scott Vestal
2017: Scott Vestal
2016 Prize Winner: Rhiannon Giddens
2016: Rhiannon Giddens
2015 Prize Winner: Danny Barnes
2015: Danny Barnes
2014 Prize Winner: Eddie Adcock
2014: Eddie Adcock
2013 Prize Winner: Jens Kruger
2013: Jens Kruger
2012 Prize Winner: Mark Johnson
2012: Mark Johnson
2011 Prize Winner: Sammy Shelor
2011: Sammy Shelor
2010 Prize Winner: Noam Pikelny
2010: Noam Pikelny