Fiddler Melvin Wine (April 20, 1909-March 16, 2003) was born near Burnsville. The Wine family, of German descent, has resided in Braxton County since at least 1840, having come from Rockingham County, Virginia. Melvin descended from a line of Braxton County fiddlers and singers stretching at least to his great-grandfather, Smithy Wine.
Wine, a recipient of the Vandalia Award in 1981, played his fiddle for old-time music enthusiasts throughout the nation. He was a perennial winner of ribbons at the West Virginia State Folk Festival at Glenville. He was chosen as a National Heritage Fellow in 1991 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest recognition given to a folk artist in the United States. He performed in concert in Washington upon accepting his award.
Wine’s biggest musical influence was his father, Bob Wine, but he also acknowledged the fiddling prowess of ‘‘Uncle Jack’’ McElwain of Webster County. At the beginning of the 21st century, Melvin Wine was widely recognized as one who had maintained a repertoire distinctly tied to central West Virginia and who adhered to a playing style closely linked to the 19th century. With a repertoire of more than 250 tunes, Wine’s style and tunes were studied by student fiddlers at regional workshops. He directly and intensively taught three young fiddlers through the West Virginia Folk Art Apprenticeship Program.
This Article was written by Gerald Milnes
Last Revised on November 19, 2010
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