Banjo Women header
Photograph of Kate Brett Kate Brett at the Augusta Heritage Festival, Elkins, West Virginia, August 1997.
Photo by Geoff Eacker
 

 

KATE BRETT is from a musical family who once hosted legendary banjo player Pete Seeger to dinner. From that early exposure with the instrument at the age of ten, she went on to become the principal banjoist with the Chicago Barn Dance Company. When choosing graduate school, Kate was torn between West Virginia University and the University of North Carolina. She chose Morgantown over Chapel Hill she says because she “really wanted a music community and I wanted to play with other women.” She got both wishes and ended up playing banjo at coffeehouses in Morgantown with an all-female string band called “The Worry Sisters.”

Kate claims Sylvia O’Brien as “an influence of mine as far as being a strong woman who just lived her life. For the most part of her life she wasn’t married and she had the banjo her brother made her and she showed me how it was tuned.”

When Kate shows the elaborately-carved and inlayed banjo her husband Kevin Enoch built her, she says, “This is my engagement ring. Most people get real rings. I get a banjo. It’s much more practical.”

Kate has put her “practical” banjo to good use, winning contests at the Vandalia Festival in Charleston, WV, as well as taking first place in the banjo and all-around performance at the 1990 Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Virginia.

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