Haylee Kinsler, a rising sophomore at Gate City High School, and Maelee Taylor, a rising freshman, also at Gate City High School, competed in the 10th annual Gathering in the Gap Music Festival at the Southwest Virginia Museum State Park in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Ultimately, the girls tied for first place, each winning a $100 cash prize. Another student from Gate City High School, Haley Stock, took second place honors.
The Gathering in the Gap Music Festival is a celebration of the rich tradition of old-time, Americana and bluegrass music found in Southwest Virginia.
Haylee and Maelee were both assistant student instructors for the Scott County JAMs program this past school year.
Scott County JAMs gives students in fourth through eighth grades the opportunity to learn the traditional music of the region in which they live in an after-school program. The program provides interested students with instruction on fiddle, banjo or guitar from traditional music instructors.
Haylee’s mother, Regina Kinsler, hopes the success Haylee and Maelee have seen with Scott County JAMs will encourage other students to participate in the program next school year.
“This is such a great program,” said Kinsler, who serves as a volunteer for Scott County JAMs. “The students are taught old-time music, which is what this area is about. This is the music that formed everything else you hear. It all started right here.”
Kinsler said the students start out learning about the old-time music and then “take it from there.”
Haylee and Maelee were also part of an old-time band that competed in the Gathering in the Gap Music Festival. In addition to Haylee and Maelee, The Kermit Possum Killers, was comprised of Tom Swadley, John Rushing and Frank Wing. The group took home first place and $500 for their win in the old-time band competition.
For more information on Scott County JAMs, visit the program’s Facebook page.