The Steve Martin Banjo Prize Announces 2022 Winners

This is no joke! The Steve Martin Banjo Prize has announced its 2022 winners.

Videos by American Songwriter

Named after the comedian-turned-banjo-playing-musician, Steve Martin, two winners receive the prestigious award each year.

Martin and the Board of The Steve Martin Banjo Prize have announced the two winners—Bill Evans of Alto, New Mexico, and Enda Scahill of Galway, Ireland. 

Building on the Board’s mission to recognize excellence across the spectrum of banjo styles, this year’s recipients represent excellence in both 5-string bluegrass and 4-string Irish banjo traditions. 

“We are proud to honor all of the multitudes of banjo styles,” says Martin of the honors. “So many great artists, so little time.”

Martin introduced viewers to the winners on Thursday (November 10) on the Deering Banjo Company’s livestream channel, Deering Live. That was followed by interviews and musical performances. The live stream was also carried by No Depression, The FreshGrass Foundation, The International Bluegrass Music Association, Folk Alley, and Compass Records Group.

About the winners: 

Bill Evans and Enda Scahill (Photo courtesy Shore Fire)

Bill Evans: Over the course of his 45-year career, Bill Evans has achieved acclaim for his mastery of the 5-string banjo. As a performer, teacher, writer, and composer, he brings deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion to all things banjo. While Bill is equally adept at both traditional and progressive bluegrass banjo styles, he is unique among bluegrass-rooted players for his expertise in 19th and early 20th century minstrel and classic banjo styles. His 2022 DVD/CD release The Banjo in America explores banjo music from the 1780s to the present and includes some original compositions as well. Bill is also the author of several instructional books for banjo including the best-seller, Banjo for Dummies, and is a dedicated and popular banjo instructor, staging and participating in banjo camps across the US and abroad. 

Enda Scahill: Enda is a four-time All-Ireland Champion and one of Ireland’s most celebrated tenor banjoists. He is a founding member of We Banjo 3 which The Wall Street Journal described as having “a freshness and finesse bordering on the magical.” Enda is also the creator and host of the popular podcast, “Inside the Banjoverse,” which delves into the unique musical journeys of some of roots music’s most celebrated artists. Enda has toured and recorded with a long list of musical icons including The Chieftains, Ricky Skaggs, Frankie Gavin, and Stockton’s Wing. He was an original member of The Brock McGuire Band, which Irish American News called, “The Instrumental Band of the Decade.” In addition, Enda is the author of The Irish Banjo Tutor Vol I and II, the top-selling tenor banjo tutorial series on the market.

Originally conceived of and launched in 2010 by Steve Martin, the Steve Martin Banjo Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass put half a million dollars into the banjo community over the course of a decade with an unrestricted $50K award given annually to a master bluegrass or old-time banjo player.

Past winners included some of the instrument’s brightest stars: Rhiannon Giddens, Noam Pikelny, Jens Kruger, and Kristin Scott Benson.

Steve Martin photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

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