Local student wins regional essay contest

Published 1:04 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Local banjo student from Tryon Live Arts Center (PacJam), Kamron Montgomery, catches the attention of world famous musicians, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, with his essay, “Throw Down Your Heart”. This was an Ambassadorial grant from the U.S State Department to work with and visit youth from Petro National Trust in Jordan.

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have been working very close with local star, Kristin Scott Benson of the Gracals and Spartanburg Philharmonic to bring the banjo to the region and present a series of educational event centered around the banjo. 

In the fall of 2019, PacJam students from the Tryon area were asked to view Bela Flecks movie, “Throw Down Your Heart” which traces the Banjo direct to Africa.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Kamron, as well as many other students entered this regional essay contest to win tickets as well as recognition on stage with Bela and Abigail during their January 31 concert in Spartanburg.

Spartanburg’s Philharmonic “Discovering the Banjo” program also brings Tray Wellington, another accomplished African American banjo player. Along with Kamron, Wellington is in the NC Junior Appalachian Musician Program. They had the honor of playing for faculty and students at Spartanburg’s Cleveland Academy where they performed with Kristin Scott Benson.

Kamron was the overall winner with his essay beginning “O am 11 years old and am African American, playing the banjo since five years old. Meeting and playing with other people give me great pleasure, but I have never met another African American banjo player.” The essay goes on to say Bella is “The real deal”.

At the concert, Kamron received his award on stage from Kathryn Boucher, Executive Director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic.

Moore, PacJams coordinator, was presented with a Banjo for PacJam at Tryon Fine Arts Center.

After the concert, Kamron and Carson Moore had the privilege to go backstage and jam

with Bela and Tray. This was really the “frosting on the cake”!

Thank you, Bela Fleck.

I also want to thank Dr. Bibi Freer, DMV, for investing in my music future when I was five years old. Thank you Dr. Freer.


Submitted by Carol Cope