The Legacy of Fletcher Bright

Businessman, philanthropist, and noted bluegrass fiddler Fletcher Bright first met Matt Glaser, artistic director of Berklee’s American Roots Music Program, more than 25 years ago when Bright wrote him to ask about the fiddle style of Vassar Clements.

The two struck up a friendship, and in 2008, Bright established an endowed scholarship for students playing and studying roots music at Berklee. Every year since, he would invite the recipient to play at his 3 Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival—a free event named after his daughters and held each fall in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The invitation gave students the opportunity to play on the same stage as Del McCoury, Béla Fleck, Abigail Washburn, and so many other roots music luminaries.

On Christmas morning 2017, Bright died at the age of 86. Weeks later, his family reached out to Berklee to continue the tradition of inviting the Fletcher Bright Scholarship recipient to play, and Glaser responded by sending three young fiddlers—Devon Gardner, Ella Jordan, and Sofia Chiarandini—to the October festival. They played a scorching set that ended with the dedication of “Heart of the Heartland,” one of Bright’s favorite tunes.

Thanks to the generosity of the Bright family, Fletcher Bright’s legacy and love of roots music will live on at the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Music Festival, especially when the Berklee fiddlers take the stage.