"With few exceptions, the piano does not play a prominent part in Appalachian music, and is rarely the lead instrument," according to the National Council for the Traditional Arts, "but Jeff Little is an exception—and a remarkable one. His distinctive style, much influenced by the mountain flat-picked guitar tradition, is breathtaking in its speed, precision and clarity."
Jeff Little comes from Boone, in the heart of the Blue Ridge. He began playing piano at age five. His family ran Little's Music Store in Boone, where musicians of all types frequently dropped by to play a tune. Among those was Doc Watson, a neighbor and close family friend whose music helped shape Jeff's unique piano style. Watson, a keeper of deep Appalachian traditions, has also pioneered the flat-picking of intricate fiddle tunes on the guitar. Little has taken a similar approach in playing the piano.
A professional musician since the age of 14, Jeff Little is conversant with traditional jazz, old-time, country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and blues. Singing and playing a rack-mounted harmonica, he can be a one-man show. Jeff settled in Nashville for a while, where he worked as a session musician in between stints on the road, and also worked with a wide range of commercial country artists, most notably Keith Urban. In 2004, he returned to North Carolina to direct the Music Industry Program at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown.
Jeff often appears with Doc Watson or Wayne Henderson, and is a regular at MerleFest in Wilkesboro. He has released three CDs, and has been featured on National Public Radio several times. Jeff has taken his exciting piano style around the world on United States government goodwill tours, performing in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bahrain, Oman, France, and Tanzania. He has also performed at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Folk Festival, and the National Council for the Traditional Arts' American Piano Masters series.
Jeff Little is available for performances either solo or with a group.