Carson Peters holds a fiddle.
Carson Peters’ extraordinary musical prowess first became apparent when at only 2 years old — the age when most children are just learning to speak — he played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on a ukulele that his grandmother gave him.
His parents bought him a fiddle that was an eighth the size of a standard fiddle at an Amish flea market in Pennsylvania, and he played his first live show as a 4-year-old at a fire department benefit concert.
Now 9, the finger-pickin’ prodigy and his band play about 50 shows per year. For the first time, the group will perform at Bluegrass on Broad in downtown Kingsport. Show time is 7 p.m., Friday, June 28.
Peters was an instant sensation when he began to play in competitions. He won first place in the 15 and under category at the Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention in Mount Airy, N.C., in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. At the same competition in 2008, 2010 and 2012, he received the Most Promising Young Talent Award. In Clarksville, Tenn., he won the title of Tennessee State Peewee Fiddle Champion for 2010. He has also claimed first place in the Youth Old-Time Fiddle category at the Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, Va.
He has played at Bristol Rhythm and Roots, Dollywood’s Bluegrass and BBQ festival and at Asheville’s Bluegrass First Class. He also played on the live WDVX radio show “Kidstuff” in Knoxville.
When he was 3 years old, Peters began taking fiddle lessons from Sarah Fletcher Collins of Morrell Music in Johnson City, where he was a student for three years. Keith Williams is his current instructor in Greeneville.
Peters lives with his parents, Jamie and Robin, in Piney Flats, and enjoys playing and attending bluegrass festivals.
“It’s just knowing that when I play I can make people smile, and that God gave me the talent to play the fiddle and I can use that to make people smile,” Peters said. “(Hearing applause) is not what I set out to do when I play. I just want to make them happy. I don’t really care about the fame.”
He met fellow Fiddlin’ Carson Peters Band members Bobbie Dier (mandolin, banjo, guitar and mountain dulcimer) and Tom Dier (bass) in Mount Airy when he was 4 years old. He approached the couple proposing they form The Fiddlin’ Carson Peters Band and is now the group leader.
“As far as him being a kid, it’s not like we’re playing with a kid,” Tom Dier said. “I mean that seriously. He’s a professional, and he’s a very skilled fiddle player. We don’t think of him as a kid.”
Peters plays at regional churches with Vivian and Howard Hammonds in a gospel group called Headed Home. He also plays at nursing homes and at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Johnson City.
Bluegrass on Broad is a part of the Downtown Kingsport Concert Series, which takes place at 200 Broad Street. All shows are free, but organizers ask that patrons bring their own chairs. No coolers or pets are allowed.
Sponsoring the series are the City of Kingsport, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Pal’s, Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau, Eastman Credit Union, Eastman Chemical Company and more.
For more information, visit www.twilightalive.com or call (423) 392-8820.