Kelly Snider was still in her mother’s womb when her father, Randy Sheets, first played banjo for her. Her parents were old-time and folk musicians, and Kelly grew up surrounded by traditional mountain music. At five years old, she competed in the folk song category at the Ashe County Fiddlers Convention.
Years later, at another competition, Kelly discovered a new musical gift. She had sung with her mother and with school groups, but singing harmony never came naturally. “It just clicked, camping at this fiddlers’ convention,” she remembers. “I prefer to sing harmony now.”
In college, Kelly became interested in instrumental music, and she experimented with mandolin and banjo, taking a few lessons. She had also taken some violin lessons in school, and she retrieved an old family fiddle from her parents’ closet. The Albert Hash fiddle had been played by her uncle Joe, who was so small when he got the fiddle that he learned to play holding the instrument upright like a cello.
Kelly quickly made a connection with the fiddle. “When I started playing fiddle, that particular instrument, it just took off,” she says. “Something about the way it felt. It just seemed like I could play all of a sudden.”
Kelly’s husband, banjo player Ian Snider, encouraged her to play, and the two worked up a repertoire of songs. She plays with both her family and her husband at community concerts, local and regional festivals, and other private events. Kelly has performed at the Ola Belle Reed Festival, Wayne Henderson Festival, Carter Family Fold, and famous Rex Theatre in Galax, Virginia.
Kelly is available for performances with Ian Snider. She is also available for performances with her parents, Randy and Deborah Jean Sheets, and to give classroom programs.