Classic country and bluegrass artist carries on musical tradition


Playing traditional country music for the world since the age of 14, Buddy Davis ’70 still enjoys his long and varied music career as a bass player to this day. In 1967, Davis, a seventh-generation descendent of the original settlers from Shelton Laurel in Madison County, began performing in the annual Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville. Since then, Davis has performed with many respected musicians, such as David Holt, Sam Bush, Doc and Merle Watson, Roy Clark, Chubby Wise, Jethro Burns, Grandpa Jones, Doug Dillard, Marc Pruett ’74 and Billy Edd Wheeler.

Buddy Davis

Davis played bass in Doc Watson’s band and was nominated for a Grammy. He also has been the recipient of various honors, including the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award. He has performed his classic country and bluegrass music at the Lunsford Festival at Mars Hill University since 1969, and he played in The Bailey Mountain Trio from Mars Hill.

Davis is a widely respected musician in Western North Carolina, said Ted Whisnant ’70, who performed with Davis in a campus folk music band with other friends long ago. “In those days, we were known as the New Salem Singers, and we performed at many campus parties and local restaurants. For a time, we had a standing engagement at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro. Our pay was supper for each player,” said Whisnant. “Only Buddy stayed in music.”

An Arden resident, Davis is listed in the Online Blue Ridge Heritage roster of true traditional musicians. Currently, he fronts his own band and performs at major folk festivals with his daughters and granddaughter. “It is a great thing to be on stage with my daughters and granddaughter, having the seventh, eighth and ninth generations of an original Madison County family all on stage at one time,” said Davis. “To me, passing the tradition on is what it’s all about.”

Kaitlyn Connelly, a senior majoring in English with a concentration in professional writing, was a summer 2014 intern in the Office of Communications and Public Relations.