Aynsley Porchak began playing fiddle at the age of 9. She was introduced to bluegrass through the music of Kenny Baker and Bobby Hicks, and quickly fell in love with the music. In order to further hone her craft, Aynsley enrolled in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies degree program in 2013, and shortly thereafter became a member of the university’s Bluegrass, Celtic, and Country Pride Bands.
Aynsley is also an experienced contest fiddler. She was Blessed to win the Grand Master Fiddler Championship in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 2017, she also became the Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion, making her the first person to win both competitions.
Aynsley is currently a graduate student at East Tennessee State University where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies. She also is passionate about teaching and giving back to the music that she loves so much. Aynsley feels very Blessed and honored to be playing with Carolina Blue, and is thankful to be playing with such talented musicians and even greater people!
Now that I’m back from IBMA and finally have a free moment to sit down and think about winning the 2018 IBMA Instrumentalist of the Year Momentum Award this past week, I can finally thank some people who truly deserve it. And since I stubbornly refused to practice a speech in case I won because I was convinced it wouldn’t happen, this is my chance to say what I would have if I had prepared to talk.
First of all, I have to thank God for everything. It truly is all from Him.
Mom and Dad - you know me better than anyone else. I love you both dearly and am so thankful that you encouraged me in my fiddling over the years, especially when I started playing and went through that awkward squeaky state. Thank you so much for always being there for me and supporting me. I couldn’t wish for better role models or parents.
Thank you to the International Bluegrass Music Association for this award. It means so much to me to have received such recognition that I truly don’t feel I deserve. I don’t take this lightly, and I’m so thankful that your organization chose me. As well, congrats to my fellow award recipients David Benedict and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes! You both are so talented and completely deserve this!
Certain people have molded me into the player I am today, and I’d like to thank all of the wonderful teachers in my life who have changed it for the better. Gerald Hamilton, Doug Mcnaughton, Dan Boner, Hunter Berry - you all helped me learn the ins and outs of bluegrass fiddling, and I’m still learning a lot from you all. As well, East Tennessee State University and the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program has been a wonderful place to learn all about the music I love, whether that is bluegrass, Celtic, or country music, and I am sincerely thankful for all of my teachers and friends that I met there. And to all of the many influences on my playing, both past and present, I owe you a debt of gratitude.
Carolina Blue took a chance on a practically unknown fiddler from Canada, and they not only welcomed me into the band, but into their lives and homes. I feel like I’m part of a second family with them, and I want to thank all of you, Timmy Jones, Bobby Powell, Reese Combs, and James McDowell for being the best bandmates I could ever hope for, as well as Lakin Jones for keeping us all in line - not an easy feat!
While I’m on that subject, Carolina Blue did help me find one other very important part of my life. James, I love you more than words can say. You make me want to be a better musician and a better human being. I’m so glad you’re a part of my life, and I’m so proud to be your girlfriend, baby.
And finally, thank you to all of the people who have supported me, voted for me, cheered me on, and told me that you liked my hats/dresses/shoes. It’s truly an honor. I am grateful for every one of you, and I’m especially appreciative to the people who took the time to read to the end of this veritable novel of a speech. In short, thank you all so much!