Samuel Turner Stevens (1925-1999) was the first musician I met in Asheville, North Carolina in 82. Sam made beautiful fretless banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins, wooden mallets, canoe oars, telescopes, windmills, rifles, lamps, sleds, chairs and was an award-winning pool player. When I first met him he had just drawn plans for an ultra-light plane and he walked me out to his back field where he had cleared his runway.
How We Helped:
After joining the Music Maker family in 1991, Sam received sustenance grants, was recorded on Music Maker compilation CDs, and was featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America. Music Maker also helped arranged photography for Sam for a national advertising campaign.
His curiosity of life was infectious. I spent the majority of my time with Sam learning to play the old songs during my first years of college. His mother was a ballad singer. His neighbor was the great song collector and founder of the Asheville Folk Festival Bascombe Lamar Lunsford. Sam would drive with Bascombe deep into nearby Madison County. They would work for the farmer all day in the fields and in exchange the man would sing them the old ballads. Sam was also a leader in the old shape note singing gatherings. He was the only white artist represented in the Winston Blues campaign. He was very proud to represent Music Maker and it was a very sad day when he was tragically killed crossing a street near his home by a car. – Tim Duffy