NATCHITOCHES – Twelve-year-old Carson Taylor was named Grand Champion of the 2014 Louisiana State Fiddle Championship. Carson’s 9-year-old sister Julia Taylor is the 2014 Non-Championship winner. The two are West Monroe homeschooled students and are students of fiddle teacher Steve Cannon. Both have been playing since they were five years old and were accompanied on guitar by their father, Lendel Taylor.
The Fiddle Championship was a highlight of the 35th annual Natchitoches-Northwestern State University Folk Festival, held on the NSU campus last week. This year’s festival was a celebration of the Natchitoches Tri-Centennial and included music, crafts and cultural exhibits.
In the non-championship category, Julie Taylor played a waltz Cannon wrote especially for her.
“I was teaching Julie’s brother Carson fiddle lessons way before Julia started,” Cannon said. “She loved the fiddle so much, even as a toddler. As I would teach Carson his lessons, she had an old torn up fiddle they let her drag around the house and without fail, before the lesson was over, she would usually drag it in there to us. Even though it was busted, you would have thought she had a Stradivarius in her eyes. She would put it to her shoulder and draw the bow across imaginary strings and we would all applaud to her delight.
After beginning lessons at age five, Cannon began preparing Julia for the fiddle contest and searched for an easy waltz for her to play. Unable to find a waltz uncomplicated enough for a child, he wrote one himself.
“It is so simple to play,” he said. “Basically, all you do is play the notes of the major scale backward in 3Ž4 time. It was a hit and she loved it. I decided to name it ‘Julia’s Waltz’ for obvious reasons.”
With the perfect song for Julia, he readied her for the contest, but five years of stage fright prevented her from performing at the Fiddle Championship.
“Finally, this year, she rose to the top and overcame her fright and entered the contest,” Cannon said. “I stood there beside her and as she played ‘Julia’s Waltz’ on the stage. I knew something special was taking place. It was as though you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. I was so proud of her. The judges must have felt it too, because Julia, playing ‘Julia’s Waltz’ for the very first time every on stage took home the blue ribbon.”
Other winners from the Grand Championship of the fiddle contest were Hal Mayfield, second place, and Ron Pace, third place. Jeanne Hardy was the winner in the 60 and up Non-Championship round. Winners in the 0 to 21 Non-Championship Round were Julia Beth Taylor, first; Maddalyn Doughtie, second; Wyatt Trull, third; Stormy Mike, fourth; Gunnar Terry and Dalton Aulds, tied at fifth; Lane Upshaw, sixth, and Brody Aulds, seventh.