To commemorate the life and musical legacy of Kenny Baker, Appalshop presents media excerpts documenting a 1977 performance featuring this influential bluegrass fiddler combined with video of his funeral service held in Letcher County, Kentucky on July 12, 2011.
Born near Jenkins, Kentucky, Baker played music semi-professionally in eastern Kentucky during the 1940s but made his living primarily as a coal miner and farmer. He also served in the Navy during World War II. A decade later, in 1957, Baker became a mainstay of Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys playing fiddle with this groundbreaking bluegrass band off and on for 23 years. Baker's recordings contain many great old fiddle tunes and more than 80 of his own compositions. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame (1999) and a recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship (1993) recognizing Baker's mastery of dynamic control, phrasing, and accuracy in his "long bow" technique that is envied and imitated by other fiddlers. This award by the National Endowment for the Arts for master folk and traditional artists honors their contributions to our national cultural mosaic.