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darren nicholson

Darren Nicholson

Bluegrass musician Haywood County

Jackson County native Darren Nicholson first appeared on stage when he was eighteen months old, an appearance with his parents that foreshadowed a precocious and successful career that would soon be underway. With a singing mother, fiddling father, guitar-playing uncle, and an army of musical cousins and other relatives, Nicholson had plenty of musical mentors. He played professionally as a child with his father, Hayes Nicholson, and uncle Bud Cunningham, and then at the age of twelve became a member of the band that grew into Buncombe Turnpike.

Nicholson later joined Hazel Creek, a Haywood County-based traditional bluegrass group that he cites as “one of the biggest influences in [my] life and career.” Working with Hazel Creek led to the first of what would be many appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. He says, “I am as comfortable there as anywhere I have ever played.” In 2004, he was recruited to play with Alecia Nugent, and what was to be a two-week stint with her at the Opry grew into a three-year adventure, touring the world with her band.

Darren Nicholson has recorded or performed with almost everyone in bluegrass and country music. He’s been featured on over 100 albums by John Driskell Hopkins, Zac Brown, Alison Krauss, Joe Diffie, and many others. Currently he plays with Balsam Range, a band of some of the top bluegrass players in Western Carolina. He has 4 solo recordings, over 10 albums with Balsam Range, with over 40 #1 songs. He’s the winner of 10 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, a Grammy nominee, an inductee into The Order of The Long Leaf Pine, and a North Carolina Heritage Award recipient.


Darren Nicholson plays for festivals, concerts, and other events with Balsam Range, and solo. He will consider requests for demonstrations, lessons, and school programs.