Wheeler Front


March 13, 2009

Until April of 1999 the dynamic family band known as Cherryholmes did not exist, and half of its youthful members hadn’t even picked up an instrument. In five short years, this high-energy Nashville-based band was named 2005 IBMA’s Entertainers of the Year.

Cherryholmes has many qualities that make them unique, but the basis of their success lies in plain, old- fashioned hard work combined with shining star talent that only appears to glow more brightly with each performance. They embody the American Bluegrass dream.

All six band members pull together their creative ideas to form their own new brand of bluegrass music. Every member takes a turn singing lead and showcasing their abilities. Their live shows include twin fiddles, Irish step dancing, classic country yodeling, and old-time claw hammer in addition to their dynamic bluegrass.

They have continued to receive many industry nominations and awards- including a Grammy nomination in 2006 for their first commercial release Cherryholmes. Their second release on Skaggs Family Records, Cherryholmes II, was released in June 2007 and opened up at Number One on the Billboard charts. Cherryholmes have also become regular performers on the historic Grand Ole Opry.

The band leader, Jere, sums the band up this way: “People say that bluegrass music has to change or evolve or it will die. Well, if you change something from one thing to another it isn’t alive anyway. I don’t really think it needs to be changed. It just needs new life breathed into it. I feel like maybe I’m offerring that with my family.”

Jere (Pop) is father, leader, manager, and emcee for Cherryholmes. He plays the upright bass-hard and fast, sensitive and smooth, while singing lead with a “rough around the edges” old country style. His talent as an arranger has been important in shaping the band’s style.

Sandy Lee (Mom) plays a hard-hitting mandolin style and driving rhythm that keep the band’s momentum going. For special numbers, she switches to the clawhammer banjo. She is the most versatile singer in the band. From hard hitting bluegrass gospel to old-time mountain and country tunes, she does it all. Her yodeling is a real crowd pleaser. Sandy is also a great harmony singer and song writer. Cia Leigh began the band on the guitar in 1999 at age 15. In October of 2000, however, she switched to the banjo. Influenced by the styles of J.D. Crowe, Don Reno, and Jim Mills, she has developed a fast, powerful style of her own. Her banjo plays a major role in the band’s hard driving style. Cia is quickly moving to the top as a vocalist as well. Singing harmony, she shines on tenor and high baritone. Her voice has been featured on several other industry projects.

B.J. began playing fiddle in 1999 at age 11 and has amazed all of those who have watched him over the years. His fiddling adds an excitement to the music not possible by most young musicians. He has been compared to such stellar fiddlers as Stuart Duncan and Aubrey Haney, and has performed with some of bluegrass’s finest. B.J. is also a fine vocalist, adding lead and harmony vocals for the group. Skip began playing mandolin in the band in 1999 at age 9. But in November of 2000 he was asked to take over on the guitar. In only a few months he was playing rhythm and flat-picking. This tall, Hank Williams look-alike charms the audience with his guitar picking, singing, and showmanship. Skip is an excellent picker, but it is his aggressive rhythm style that characterizes the Cherryholmes drive and energy.

Molly Kate began playing in 1999 at age 6.This young, left-handed fiddler’s aggressive, soulful style and song writing abilities amaze all who see her. Debuting on the Grand Ole Opry at age 7, Molly has a beautiful voice and adds her lead and harmony vocals to Cherryholmes’s versatile vocal structure.

This performance was co-sponsored with the Wheeler Opera House.

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