When Steve Sutton was a small child living in Haywood County, his family would sometimes drive up the mountain to Maggie Valley for a family outing. There he remembered seeing informal gatherings of musicians, jam sessions by the side of the road in which local bluegrass players were making music that caught his fancy. One of the musicians was Raymond Fairchild, and when Sutton began to play the banjo, Maggie Valley’s famous native son took him under his wing. Soon Sutton was playing in the jam sessions, and then on stage.
By the time he was in high school, Sutton had become such a good banjo player that he received nearly simultaneous offers from both Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin. He chose to go on the road with Jimmy Martin in 1974, and thus began a career that carried him from the Grand Ole Opry around the world and back again. In later years, stints playing and recording with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, and touring the world with Alecia Nugent, kept him in the spotlight. Sutton appeared on the IBMA Award-winning, Grammy-nominated album Celebration of Life, and also received Grammy nominations as part of two recording projects with Rhonda Vincent.
Back home in Haywood County, Sutton was a long-time member of the Whitewater Bluegrass Company. He also appeared regularly at Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky, bringing him full-circle back to the town where his music career began.
Steve Sutton passed away on May 13, 2017 at the age of sixty-one.