19 February 2021

An important correction (update)

L-r: Chubby Wise, Curly Bradshaw, Bill Monroe, Sally Ann Forrester,
Clyde Moody, Dave 'Stringbean' Akeman, c.1943/4

The December 2020 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine included the article 'The birth of bluegrass music' by BU editor Dan Miller. The membership of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys on stage at the Grand Ole Opry on the historic night of 8 December 1945 was given as Monroe (mandolin), Lester Flatt (guitar), Howdy Forrester (fiddle), Joe Forrester (bass), and the new banjo player, Earl Scruggs.

BU's February 2021 issue published an important correction from Murphy Hicks Henry, longtime BU contributor and author of Pretty good for a girl: women in bluegrass (2013). Murphy pointed out that accordionist Wilene 'Sally Ann' Forrester, who had been in the band longer than any of the other members besides Monroe and did not leave till March '46, should have been included. Dan Miller apologised for the omission; he had tried to establish who was on stage that night, but no source he consulted had mentioned Sally Ann's presence. (It's fair to note that in Pretty good for a girl (p. 18) Murphy had not found it possible to give a firm 'Yes!' to the question 'Did the first bluegrass band [i.e. the band on stage on 8.12.45] include a woman?')

Sally Ann's memory is honoured and perpetuated in the Bluegrass Foundation's Sally Ann Forrester College Scholarship, a $1,000 fall semester scholarship awarded to one female bluegrass musician annually.

Update 22 Feb.: A 2000 article by Murphy Henry on Sally Ann, with emphasis on her recorded work with the Blue Grass Boys, is in the 'Archives' section of the BU website.

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