Michigan Heritage Awards
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Photo by Mary Whalen
Photo by Mary Whalen
2002 awardee, Flushing (Genesee County), old-time fiddler
Lois Bettesworth was introduced to fiddling by her father, Burt Hutchinson,
who used to play for house parties in Michigan. Born in Minnesota in 1925,
Lois and her family moved to Michigan soon after. Lois attended her first
house party at age one, began playing fiddle at age nine, and played twin
fiddles together with her father for many years thereafter. Her formal music
instruction with other teachers lasted for ten years. Steeped in the music
tradition of her father and grandfather, however, her dedication to and
perpetuation of the old-time Missouri fiddling style has not waned.
Accolades for Lois call attention to her musical ability, her generosity
and encouragement to others, and her commitment to fiddling. Stephen Williams,
fellow fiddler and director of the Port Huron Museum of Art and History,
credits her with inspiring him to become a musician more than 25 years ago.
"She showed me the rudiments of bowing and fingering and she gave me her
own recordings of tunes played the way her father had played them. When
she felt confident that I was serious about this venerable tradition, she
handed me her father's instrument and charged me with the awesome responsibility
of keeping both the tradition and the fiddle alive." (1)
Lois has played for dances through the years with a number of bands. In
1951 she organized her first dance band that played for square dances. She
plays at various statewide fiddlers' jamborees, including the one she established
in Flushing. In 1978 she organized an old-time band, Shades of Blue, for
which she is the lead singer and fiddler. The band plays without a fee at
senior centers, schools, churches, care homes, class reunions, round and
square dances, community events, festivals, and jamborees in the region.
In addition to her dedication to old-time music, Lois plays a key role in
the Flushing Area Historical Society and is active in many ways in her community.
She continues to have a profound influence on many individuals who all agree,
"she is one of a kind."
(1) Williams, Stephen. Letter of support to panelists. 10 May 2001.
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