Memorizing 12 songs and playing them live in front of judges in no small feat. Not only did 14-year-old Grace Partridge do that for the 2019 National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest, but she took first place in the Junior Division. This isn’t just another accolade for the Rigby native to add to her collection, it is so much more than just a trophy or an award.
“I wanted to win for him and his wife,” Grace told BYU-Idaho Radio in her interview. “My friend Paul Drake was in my ward.”
Paul Drake lived near Grace and passed away a few weeks ago of salivary gland cancer.
“He was really inspiring,” she said.
Every week in her congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Paul was a greeter. He would hand out programs and whenever he saw Grace, he would always ask her how her fiddling was going.
“Before I went to Nashville in 2017, I threw a fundraising concert and he let me do it in his backyard,” she said. “They set up a stage and everything for it. It was really sweet.”
Grace won the state competition this year, and she won the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho.
“I decided I wanted to win the state competition for him and I wanted to win Weiser, Idaho for him,” Grace said with tears in her eyes. “I want to win Nashville for him. Just because I love him so much. I love his wife too. I want to win it for her too.”
Grace is getting ready for the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in Nashville, Tennessee. Each competition, the contestant has to play a series of songs to advance in each round. Not only do they play multiple songs, but they each play with an accompaniment in each performance.
At the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest there is a division called the Twin Fiddle Contest. Grace entered it with Jessa Preston from Blackfoot where they both took first place in the division. She praised her friend Jessa in her interview.
“With the twin fiddle we played together, I played the harmony and she played the melody,” she said. “That’s the one we won together. I love playing with her and its really fun.”
Both students study under Jacie and Joe Sites.