Alison Brown (Co-Chair)
Alison Brown doesn’t play the banjo. Alison Brown plays music on the banjo.
Thousands of three-finger style banjo players have since made their marks, but none has cut such a path or moved so far along it as has 2015 IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award and 2001 GRAMMY Award-winning musician/composer/producer/entrepreneur Alison Brown. She’s acclaimed as one of today’s finest progressive banjo players, but you rarely find her in a conventional bluegrass setting. Instead, she’s known for leading an ensemble that successfully marries a broad array of roots-influenced music: folk, jazz, Celtic and Latin.
Although banjos typically play “tunes” or “breakdowns,” in Alison Brown’s hands, the banjo truly sings. Part of that is the result of the modifications she’s made to her signature model Prucha 5-string, muting the usual harsher overtones and extraneous noises, emphasizing the sweetness and melodicism. But mostly, it’s her unique musical vision. Brown never wastes a note, never launching into banjo tsunamis just because she can; stopping her precision three-finger roll to leave space for a lyric or other instrumental voice when appropriate.