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Josh Goforth

Bass, Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar, & Mandolin Faculty

Josh Goforth smiling in a red shirt with a sunny field in the background

Josh Goforth must have been born musical—he was already playing piano in church at the age of four—but it was an experience he had in the sixth grade that really lit the fuse of his precocious musical career. A performance at Goforth’s middle school by Sheila Kay Adams caused him to start thinking about the musical heritage of his native Madison County.

A couple of years later, he received his first guitar from one of his great-uncles, and began to learn the instrument under the tutelage of another great-uncle. The great-great-great-grandson of Madison County fiddler Asbury McDevitt was launched on a career in traditional music.

Over the next few years he learned to play at least ten different instruments by ear, learning from such local masters as Gordon and Arvil Freeman. Most famous for his fiddling, Goforth is a highly accomplished oldtime, bluegrass, and swing musician, but is remarkably versatile, able to pick up any of a wide variety of instruments and make a solid contribution in almost any kind of band. He was active in his high school’s music program, and with Goforth as drum major, the Madison High School Marching Band won first place in each of the competitions it entered.

Musical Performance and Achievements

After high school he went to East Tennessee State University to study music education, and to be a part of ETSU’s famous Bluegrass and Country Music Program. In 2000, he played fiddle for the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack. He has toured extensively with a variety of ensembles, including the ETSU bluegrass band, with David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and with several bluegrass bands including Appalachian Trail, Carolina Road, the Josh Goforth Trio, and Josh Goforth and the New Direction. He has also shared stages with Ricky Skaggs, Bryan Sutton, The Yonder Mountain String Band, Open Road, and The Steep Canyon Rangers. He has performed in all 50 US states, throughout Europe and Asia.

In 2000, 2003, and 2005, Josh was named Fiddler of the Festival at Fiddler’s Grove and, after winning the third title, was designated “Master Fiddler” and retired from that competition. He received a Grammy nomination for his collaboration album with David Holt called “Cutting Loose”.

Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar, Banjo, and Bass Lessons (Old Time, Bluegrass, Early Swing)

Goforth is already much in demand as a music teacher and performs full time as well. He says that one of the main goals of his career is to get young people interested in traditional and bluegrass music. “In all the years I’ve been playing traditional, old time, and bluegrass music, I’ve always said that if people could really see and hear it live, they’d fall in love with it.”

Want to take traditional music lessons with Josh?
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