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Samantha Bumgarner and Eva Davis

Samantha Bumgarner / Eva Davis

Samantha Bumgarner was born about 1880 in Sylva, North Carolina. Her father, Has Biddix, was a fiddle player of local renown, and by the time she was fifteen Samantha was playing banjo. Like Fiddlin' John Carson or Uncle Dave Macon, Samantha Bumgarner came to a career in music later in life, as commercial country music was just getting off the ground. She first recorded in 1924 with Eva Davis, and those early recordings were some of the first to feature five-string banjo. From 1928 to 1959, she participated in Bascom Lamar Lunsford's Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, which kept her in the public eye, and developed a following that included local players as well as folk scholars and performers such as Pete Seeger. By the time of her death in 1960, Samantha Bumgarner had achieved an iconic status in the folk and mountain music communities.

Fiddle player Eva Davis, by contrast, remains something of a mystery. She performed on "Big Eyed Rabbit" and "Wild Bill Jones" with Samantha Bumgarner, but other information is not readily available.

Adapted from:

Oermann, Robert K. "Samantha Bumgarner." The Encyclopedia of Country Music. ed. Paul Kingsbury. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 65-66.