Diller receives 2019 Vandalia Award

Dwight Diller is congratulated by West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith in receiving the Vandalia Award at the annual Vandalia Gathering in Charleston. Photo courtesy of Bo Wriston

George “The Earl of Elkview” Daugherty, Marvine Loving and Judson Wallace honored posthumously
Dwight Diller, a world-renowned banjo, fiddle player and teacher in traditional Appalachian mountain music or old-time music, received the Vandalia Award from West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Curator Randall Reid-Smith at the Friday evening Vandalia Award Concert.

Diller was born in 1946 in Rand, but grew up in Pocahontas County where he has lived most of his life. He is a master of the claw-hammer banjo while adding to this a repertoire of vocals and fiddle playing.

His discography is extensive, including 15 commercially released music albums and five one-hour instructional DVDs. His recordings of music and stories of the Hammons Family continue to have a sizable impact on today’s traditional old-time musicians and Appalachian cultural anthropologists. Some of this material was included as a Library of Congress collection and a record album.

Diller has taught and performed throughout much of the United States, as well as in Canada and England. He has hosted many banjo camps and has taught more than 1,000 students. He also taught at the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshops in Elkins for 30 years. In 2013, Diller received the Mountaineer Heritage Award at West Virginia University.

George Daugherty was born in Mannington, grew up in Elkview, and was an entertainer, toastmaster, songwriter, wit and musician. He was beloved by many as the “Earl of Elkview,” and he traveled around the world singing and talking about West Virginia and the values of Appalachian culture. Daugherty logged more than 3,000 performances across West Virginia and most of the United States, as well as numerous performances in Ireland.

Marvine Loving was a very gifted musician; she played rhythm guitar and autoharp and had a beautiful singing voice. Loving, along with her husband, John, played music all around the Mountain State and the tri-state area. She performed at 25 consecutive Vandalia Gatherings. She also was an avid crafter with hand-pieced quilts, crochet and needlework.

Judson Wallace, of Armstrong Creek, was a bass singer for the United Gospel Singers. The United Gospel Singers electrified listeners at the 2004 FOOTMAD Festival at the Fayette County Park and at a Vandalia Gathering evening concert. The United Gospel Singers were featured in Goldenseal, West Virginia’s magazine of folk life, in an article titled “We’re Here for Service: United Gospel Singers.”

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