In the south-east hills of Tennessee people will often hear a delightful ring echoing throughout the area. People from far and wide will follow this ring and as they draw closer they begin to make out that it is the twang of a banjo. With a little time they begin to hear more clearly, and start enjoying and tapping their feet to some old-time favorites like, Orange Blossom Special, and Rocky Top, thinking it must be some old guy out on his porch. Finally they arrive at the place where this wonderful music had been coming from and discovering with complete amazement that it is not an older man at all, but a beautiful little girl sitting there with a banjo on her lap picking out tunes that would make even the most seasoned banjo players bow to her. This beautiful little girl is none other than the great Willow Osborne, dubbed by many as, “Banjo Girl”.
Willow has been picking out great old Bluegrass tunes for eight years now and in these few short years that she has been playing, her artistry has grown to the point to where it would make the late Early Scruggs proud to play by her side. The world of Bluegrass music owes Willow’s mom a big thank you because if not for her everyone may have missed out on the music and happiness that Willow brings to everyone. At just three and a half years old Willow’s mom took her to see a show called the Dixie Stampede, here is where she heard the four-time national banjo champion Gary Davis. After hearing him play she decided that this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. At four years old her mom bought her a banjo, and since then she has entertained literally thousands of people.
Her talents with the banjo has landed her on stage with some of the legions like, Marty Stuart. Willow has also made her way to perform for the president of the Ford Motor company and in Vegas. She loves that her music can make people happy and can make a difference in others. One of these performances that sticks with her is when she performed for the Special Olympics. She said, it really touched her heart to see them that happy.
When Willow set out to make her mark in the entertainment industry, she first landed at Dollywood playing lead parts in, Babes in Toyland, and Sha-Kon-O-Hey along with Dolly Parton. Now, everyone can find her performing nightly at the Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge Tennessee. At the theater you will see her pickin` and a grinnin`, and gliding along with dance like a princess telling the story in the song. On stage she has no fear, this is where she born to be, and it all seems to come natural without any effort. This natural ability may just come from the fact she is happy when she brings joy to others, it really warms her heart to make people happy.
All of the different places she has performed each plays a role in honing her skills for her ultimate goal of performing on the Grand Ole Opry. Just like many of the award winners you find on the Opry, so is Willow. For the past three years she has competed in NACMAI and TCMA and has won Bluegrass Entertainer of the Year, Bluegrass Instrumentalist of the Year, and Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year. This year she was also crowned Cinderella Miss. Willow is currently in the Cinderella International Miss which is a youth development program for young girls.
Willow is starting to write and compose some songs of her own, and she hopes they will be released soon. How ever she says it is some crazy stuff, but she says it fits who she is. Willow claims to be just a crazy kid who loves family, friends and pickin’ banjo. Maybe it is some of this craziness that makes her so much fun, and has gained her so much popularity. To be on stage and perform you can not be boring and Willow certainly is not boring. She is a wonderful and sweet girl with a heart of gold and loves the stage. The next time you find yourself riding through the hills of south-east Tennessee and you hear a twang ringing through, follow the sound, and it will lead you straight to Willow.
Please take time and enjoy the video interview with Willow along with some of her great banjo picking. One of the songs is called, “These 5 Strings” which was written for her and tells her story very well.