Lawmaker Proposes Fiddle As W.Va. State Instrument

Classic music violin vintage in wooden background

A state lawmaker wants to see the fiddle named the official instrument of West Virginia.

A resolution by Republican Del. Josh Holstein introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday states that the fiddle has “importance and significance” in “West Virginia’s history, traditions and culture.”

The fiddle arrived in Appalachia in the 18th century with immigrants from the British Isles, according to the resolution.

“The fiddle soon became a staple of life in West Virginia, being played in churches, in logging and mining camps, at weddings and summer picnics, and in the homes and on porches of many West Virginians,” Holstein wrote. “It has remained so ever since.”

The proposal cites several prominent West Virginia musicians, including fiddler Blind Alfred Reed. Reed was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Born in 1880, Reed was among the artists who played in the first recordings of traditional country music at the Bristol Sessions in 1927. Reed, who was blind, performed locally until 1937 when the state passed a law prohibiting blind street musicians. He is buried in Elgood.

After its introduction in the House Wednesday, Holstein’s proposal was sent to the House Rules Committee. The fiddle is also the state instrument of Missouri and Arkansas.