South Arts announced this week that Scott County’s Jordan Hughett is among nine people from three states to receive In These Mountains: Folk & Traditional Arts master artist fellowships for 2020.
Hughett, a Scott High graduate and musician, was one of three from Tennessee named to the group. Each will receive $9,000 to support continued lifelong learning.
Other Tennessee recipients included violinist Meredith Goins from Dunlap, Tenn., and chair-maker Mark Newberry from Red Boiling Springs.
Hughett, an 8th-generation East Tennessean and the son of a minister, plays both banjo and guitar, and is also sings ballads.
According to his bio, he followed in his parents’ footstep when he developed a love of music at a young age. Both his father and mother, Don and Lounicia Hughett, sang in the church choir. When he was “three or four years old,” he requested his first banjo. When his mother bought him a toy banjo, he looked up at her and said, “Mommy, I want a real banjo.”
As a teenager, Hughett met Rev. Philip Kazee, who is a noted banjo player — like his father before him. By that time, Hughett had already heard a recording from Buell Kazee, Rev. Kazee’s father who recorded dozens of songs. He was “immediately enamored with (Buell’s) singing and playing style,” and began learning failing and clawhammer banjo from both instruction books and a woman he attended church with. Buell Kazee was one of America’s best-known folk musicians in the 1920s, before devoting himself to the ministry.
It was in high school that Hughett met Rev. Kazee through his granddaughter. After that, he spent “countless hours” with Kazee, learning the traditional Appalachian songs and playing style. He has said he wants to learn as much about Buell Kazee’s style as he can to preserve the family legacy.
Through his fellowship with South Arts, Hughett is hoping to study ballad singers Sheila Kay Adams and Daniel and Carmen Hicks.
Hughett’s mother, Lounicia Hughett, also has a background in Appalachian arts, as a storyteller who has been featured at regional events. Hughett’s sister, Micah, is also a musician, and he has sang with both her and his brother, Jacob, as The Hughetts. On their Facebook page, they describe themselves as “Just siblings who share the same love for music.”