Lillian Chase is a native of Western North Carolina, a young woman whose family has been in the mountains for generations. Her early love for traditional mountain music led her to take up the fiddle at the age of six, but by that time she had already been asking for a violin for two years. She soon became a student of fellow Weaverville resident Arvil Freeman, one of the living legends of Blue Ridge Mountain fiddle traditions. Freeman is revered as a teacher as well as a performing fiddler, and counts among his present and former students some of the young rising star fiddlers in the Asheville area.
Like her mentor, and many of the other great fiddlers from in and around Asheville, Lillian’s fiddling draws both from old-time styles and from bluegrass. She has won awards at prestigious music contests in the region, including at the Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention. Her artistry and her place in traditional music have also been recognized with a Wayne Henderson Music Festival Scholarship, a Houston Caldwell Scholarship from HoustonFest in Galax, Virginia, and a 2017 Young Artist of the Year Award from the Acadia School of Traditional Music & Arts, in Maine.
Lillian’s award from the “Acadia Trad School” enabled her, at the age of 13, to record her first album, Lillian Chase: Playing Favorites. A concert at the Madison County Arts Center in celebration of the album’s release featured Lillian with other great artists from the region, including Arvil Freeman, and fellow fiddler Roger Howell. She has also shared the stage with bluegrass legend Bobby Hicks, and world-touring fiddle masters April Verch and Bruce Molsky.
In a 2017 interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times, Lillian explained why she loves traditional music. “The whole thing about traditional music,” she said, “it’s really different from classical. I guess in this way, that you learn a tune from somebody and then you change it a little bit to make it your own and then you pass it down to somebody else and that’s kind of how it goes. It’s nice to be part of that.”
Lillian Chase is available for performances.