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Scott Miller

Traditional Appalachian fiddle music

Scott Miller

Recipient Information


Catlettsburg (Boyd County), Kentucky


Traditional Appalachian fiddle music

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Folk & Traditional Arts Master Artist Fellowship

Grant Amount


Scott Miller, who also performs and records as Derifield Miller and Derifield Scott Miller, is a traditional Appalachian fiddler who comes from a family with a rich lineage of musical stories. He grew up in a community where Appalachian music and dance were a part of his social framework, where his first foray into music was playing the guitar at 12 years old. His father (who was learning the banjo) shifted Miller’s interest from rock & roll to Bluegrass by way of a Flatt & Scruggs LP. “At that point my life changed forever,” explained Miller. “I pursued this Bluegrass music with fervor as I learned everything I could from whomever would teach me. As a 7th grader I played ‘Wildwood Flower’ in the school talent show, which I had learned by ear from an older gentleman who used to take me on coon hunts. The next year I teamed up with my banjo playing cousin and once again played in the school talent show. However, this time the applause was much loader and many pats on the back by teachers and administrators. My cousin, Darryl, and I could only play four or five tunes together, but we would play them for two or three hours at a time.”

Miller eventually moved from guitar to fiddle when the owner of a music store in Huntington, West Virginia, introduced him to area fiddlers and the Appalachian Fiddlers Association. Among his fiddle mentors is Alabama fiddle legend Roy Crawford, who Miller worked while living in north Alabama for six-years. Miller received an apprenticeship grant through the Kentucky Folklife Program to study with eastern Kentucky fiddler Roger Cooper several years ago. “I met Roger when I was 15 at a local fiddle contest [but lived too far away to play with him at the time]. That apprenticeship was vital in helping me learn more of the indigenous tunes and fiddle styles of my region.”

Serving as a mentor and instructor, Miller teaches at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University. He has also taught his three (now grown) children, nieces, and nephews to play traditional music. Miller frequently performs at music venues and festivals. “I always take the opportunity to tell the audience about the music I play. I explain where it came from, the local musicians who played the tunes, and the rich musical heritage we have in our region. I also explain how the music of our region is imitated and played across the continental US and internationally as well. Most folks will come to me afterward and say ’thanks,’ and that they had no idea of our area's musical history.”

His lifelong learning goal is to establish a small studio where Miller can produce high-quality recordings working with notable Appalachian traditional musicians. He plans to study with traditional music engineering expert Jim Wood of Tennessee Studios (Shelbyville, Tennessee) to learn about studio recording processes, the proper equipment, computer software (for Miller’s distance learning), and specific techniques associated with recording traditional music. Traditional musicians typically do not have the budgets for lengthy studio work and most professional sound engineers are often not familiar with local community and regional nuances of traditional music which impacts how music is mixed. Miller plans to assist musicians so that their projects can become reality.