by Shelby Berry
Since she was four, Mary Parker has loved the fiddle after seeing one on TV with her parents. Learning to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” was one of the first moments Mary remembers in her blossoming music career. “I was so excited to learn something I knew!” said Mary. “I learned to play all sorts of music—old-time, bluegrass, jazz, swing, a little bit of everything,” said Mary. At age eight, she took the stage to perform with her music teacher in her first duo group.
Mary’s early inspiration was the rich musical history of her hometown, Mountain View, Arkansas, which is heavy with a love for folk, classic country, and old-time music, and Mary found her place there.
“I’ve had some local fiddlers take me under their wing and teach me. I’m beyond blessed to have them shape me. They have such a heart for the young people, keeping the tradition alive. This place is like an archive keeping the traditions in music,” said Mary.
In her 17 years, Mary has played with multiple bands, won awards such as the 2019 Arkansas Country Music Artist of the Year, and became a ten-time state championship fiddle player. Her focus has been elsewhere in the last few years—her solo music.
“In 2020, during quarantine, I started writing my material to have my own music. “This Old Barn” was released in January of this year, and on April 15, I released “Remember Me.” I’m working on more original music too!”
“Before the pandemic, I didn’t have many shows. But once it hit, I realized how much I took it for granted,” said Mary. “That’s when I really started writing.”
Mary wrote her newest single, “Remember Me,” after she lost a loved one. She wanted to use her music as a way to comfort those who were losing loved ones during that time.
Inspired by musical greats like Michael Cleveland and Alison Krauss, Mary is paving the way for herself—not just in the original music she is creating but also in the energy she brings to the stage each time she performs.
“Especially on stage, I get into it,” said Mary. “It looks like I’ve had three cups of coffee before fiddling. I’m very ‘drivey’ on the fiddle and play with a lot of energy. I love it so much, and I’m always beyond happy to play.”
Amid her musical growth, Mary joined Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars (TBS) around 2018, and since then, she has become the Junior Vice President of the group.
Believing in the mission of TBS, Mary has connected with countless other young musicians over her time in the group, bonding over their mutual passions, and she credits John Colburn for much of her success.
“John has helped me so much,” said Mary. “He is always putting my name out there and advertising all of the young musicians. He’s gone the extra mile to give scholarships and the youth bluegrass festival. All the kids in that group are spread out over the country, allowing us to come together and meet other musicians our age.”
Dreaming of a future in music, Mary currently works towards performing at festivals with her band Sylamore Special, writing new solo music, and is excited to release new singles very soon.
“My goal is to go as far as I can, reaching as many stages and people as I can,” said Mary. “It’s about sharing what I love with other people. I’d like to continue this for the rest of my life. This is my happy place—being on the stage and performing. There is nothing I love more than music.”