Steve Sutton was born in Waynesville North Carolina. At 16 years old he was hired by Bill Monroe (father of bluegrass) to be one of THE bluegrass boys. Later that summer before he went full-time with Bill, he was hired by Jimmy Martin (Mr. Good N Country) and in a funny career turn, ended up working for Jimmy instead of Bill. So at 17 years old (1974) he was going to Nashville on a regular basis to play on the Grand Ole Opry. He was graduating Tuscola High School at this time with a music scholarship to Western Carolina University. Through his whole tenure at WCU he was traveling to Nashville Tennessee, the Grand Ole Opry and all over the country at the nation’s largest Bluegrass and music festivals playing professionally. He was also part of many local Western North Carolina acts including playing banjo in a seven piece rockabilly band. In the early 1980s Steve took a job with the Marc Pruett Band at Bill Stanley‘s barbecue in Asheville NC. For 10 years they became not only a local legends but were known all around the country as one of the premier instrumental bands in bluegrass music history. Steve played guitar mostly in that particular band. As a gifted guitarist he helped design guitars for Ovation and worked with him closely on their manufacturing and designs. As well as working for Gibson guitar and banjo company in the 90s. In the early 1990s when Bill Stanley’s wrapped up he went to work for the Northfolk Southern rail road band. In the late 90s he found himself returning to the Premier bluegrass spotlight as the original banjo player with Rhonda Vincent and The Rage. They played the Grand Ole Opry toured all over the world and opened country shows for folks like George Jones. During this time off and on Steve played many dates with the legendary Ronnie Milsap. Including the last episode of Hee Haw ever filmed in Nashville, Steve was playing banjo with Ronnie Milsap and Roy Clark. By the early 2000’s Steve found himself off the road and back home in western North Carolina and in 2004 was playing with a local band called Hazel Creek. He finished out his career playing a lot in western North Carolina with folks like the Darren Nicholson Band, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, the Crowe Brothers, and filling in with Balsam Range.
Steve Sutton is known throughout the whole bluegrass music world as one of the great instrumentalist and banjo players who ever lived. He is without a doubt one of the most respected, innovative banjo players in the entire genre. Steve loved music and he love representing Western North Carolina, the culture and its people. He was an incredible mentor and helped so many young musicians. He spent his whole career playing fundraisers, square dances every type of event that you can imagine. His purpose in life was to make people happy and make a positive impact with his gift of music. He was respected by everyone in the music business and will be sorely missed. This is a perfect way for his legacy, passion for music and compassion for people to be carried on for years to come. This is a one – time scholarship. The amount will be determined annually depending on funds raised.
Graduating High School Senior from Tuscola High School
Preference given to students in chorus or band and pursuing a degree in the music field
Exceptional ability and involvement in community service
Must have an after school job
SELECTION PROCESS & AWARDS
The friends of Steve Sutton will comprise the selection committee. The selection process shall consist of a review and evaluation of the scholarship application and possibly a personal interview. The Board of Directors of the Foundation will make the final decision on the recipient of this scholarship. The Board’s decision shall be final. The Haywood County Schools Foundation, Inc., a tax-exempt charitable foundation, will administer the scholarship fund.
Payment of scholarship awards will be made at the beginning of the school year or at the beginning of each semester. The student cannot receive FULL scholarship from any other source in order to receive the scholarship. The Haywood County Schools Foundation reserves the right to revoke the scholarship if the guidelines are not met. Checks will be made payable to the school for student’s account and will be forwarded to the financial aid office.