Corunna’s Greg Henry is arguably the best fiddler in Canada but he couldn’t be more modest about it.
“I guess I’ve been playing pretty well this summer,” he says of his recent win at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Henry’s parents introduced their son to the fiddle when he was barely school age.
“As the story goes, my grandfather Don Rankin, played the fiddle and our Christmas present to him the year I was five was hearing me play a few tunes,” said Henry.
Now, at age 28, he’s got more than 15 years of lessons behind him, has played countless shows and tested his skill at many a competition.
“My grandparents began taking me to contests when I was seven or eight to make sure I didn’t lose interest,” said Henry. “It showed me that a lot of kids play. That’s how I met some of my best friends who now live right across Canada.”
It’s the more traditional fiddle playing that appeals most to Henry, who comes from Irish stock on both sides of the family. “I like it all: the waltzes, the jigs and the reels,” he said.
Every summer, Henry competes in what he calls the Ontario circuit of fiddle contests that takes him to places like Shelburne, Ottawa, Stratford and Pembroke. He counts himself lucky to have a job as a process operator in Sarnia that allows him time to play competitively.
Every year, the five fiddlers judged the best in each province are invited to the Grand Masters. This year was Henry’s eighth invitation, and he’s finished in the top three on three occasions.
This was his year to win the title, take home the trophy, and $3,500 in prize money.
At Thanksgiving, local residents have a chance to hear Canada’s fiddle champion at the Brigden Fair. Look for Henry in the Sunday, Oct. 11 entertainment schedule, when he’ll perform with a champion stepdancer and singer.
“There are more fiddlers in Sarnia than people realize,” he said. “But it would be nice if there were more.”
The Arts Journal features events and individuals that contribute to the cultural fabric of our community. Send your ideas to Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.