Banjo player Marc Pruett has lived all his life in Haywood and Buncombe Counties, and he is dedicated to preserving the musical traditions of his native region. Pruett received a banjo for Christmas when he was eleven years old, after hearing Earl Scruggs on the radio and getting excited about the instrument. Over the next years he learned by observing and imitating local banjo players. He includes among his influences were local masters Mike Pressley, Raymond Fairchild, Shorty Eager, Roy Kirkpatrick, Howard Burnette, and Tom McKinney. He has also described another way of learning: “My mother would sing out the words to songs, and I would find [the notes] on the banjo.”
The music he learned from local musicians has taken him around the world. In addition to playing at major American venues including the Grand Ole Opry, the National Folk Festival, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Pruett has performed in Poland and British Columbia, at the World Music Festival, and at the World Association of Nuclear Operators. Among the honors he has received over the years is a Grammy for his contribution to Ricky Skaggs’ smash success, Bluegrass Rules. He also played banjo for the popular and long established Asheville-area Whitewater Bluegrass Company.
Today, Pruett is the banjo player and a founding member of Balsam Range, and band made up of highly acclaimed bluegrass musicians from Haywood County. Their first CD, Marching Home, was released in 2007.
In September, 2014 the North Carolina Arts Council announced that Marc Pruett will receive the prestigious North Carolina Heritage Award in 2015.
Marc Pruett is available for concerts and festival appearances with Balsam Range.