Jehile Kirkhuff was an extraordinary old time fiddler from Lawton, Pennsylvania who lived from 1907 to 1981. He’s not in the picture, but you can see pictures of him in the links below.
Who Was Jehile Kirkhuff?”
He was born into a musical family, where his grandfather, father, and uncle were all old-time fiddle players. Jehile began playing at the age of five and won his first fiddle contest when he was 19 years old, and went on to win the World Championship Fiddler’s Contest in Texas in 1954.
During his teenage years he started to lose his eyesight and eventually became blind. He continued to play and live a very active and influential life despite his ailment.
Jehile was known to be very lively and have many friends. He was an active member of his community as both a student and teacher of music. He was very involved in encouraging others and helping them learn to play. He played at many local dances, weddings, funerals and special events. He also traveled for gigs and picked up a broader style of playing that was said to include both Northern as well as Southern influences. As an adult, he made a living playing and teaching music and raising bees with his wife, Lola who was 25 years his senior. Because of his musical training, he had a unique clarity of tone that is not always present in the genre. In addition to being a fiddle player he was also a talented poet.
One of Jehile’s biggest contributions to Old Time fiddle music was the vast collection of songs he learned and passed on to others. He had an immense repertoire. Some have claimed that he knew over 1500 songs. He also wrote many of his own songs. Ed & Geraldine Berbaum, friends of Jehile, and fellow musicians, recorded over 400 songs with him for the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. This work was done through the Jehile Kirkhuff Old-Time Fiddle Music Fund.
Other recorded works featuring Jehile include Jehile Stands Alone, Autumn Breeze, and Winans Family Collection of Fiddle Tunes. To learn more, and for links to other great sources, see Jehile-The Blind Fiddler from Lawton, Pennsylvania.
Because Jehile Kirkhuff is one of the cornerstones of the old-time fiddle tradition, we at Red Desert Violin and Red Desert Fiddle are doing our small part to keep his legacy alive. Check out the Red Desert Fiddle YouTube channel where you can hear some audio recordings of Jehile Kirkhuff playing.
And then click here to read how a precious collection of recordings by Jehile Kirkhuff landed in Lora’s lap, then download the recordings so you can enjoy them whenever and wherever you like.