Edited from http://www.uncleamrecords.com
Born in 1853 near Morristown, TN., Am began to play fiddle an early age. Although some of the more strict religious folks of the time frowned upon fiddle music, the good Lord had placed a great desire in AM’s heart to play, which he felt obliged to pursue. He practiced anywhere he could. If his family tired of his persistent practice, he’d run off to the nearby post Civil War black camps, picking up all the fiddle licks and tunes he could absorb from these newly freed people. After that, he would simply go into the barn to play all alone.
Equating his fiddlin’ with his spirituality, Am said it in his own words: “Why, man, Ah guess if I should go out into th’ woods an’ go down on my knees to git religion in the spirit of determination Ah went about my fiddlin’, why, Ah wouldn’t be surprised if Ah should just nach’ly get religion.”
Some of the early recording companies could not ignore the popularity of southern mountain music. One such company, Aeolian-Vocalion, sought out Uncle Am in 1924 and brought him to New York where he recorded at least fourteen selections for the label. These releases, including “Grey Eagle“, “Waggoneer”, and “Sallie Gooden”, were advertised and promoted across the nation. While in New York, Am broadcast over WJY, making him probably the first mountain fiddler to ever be heard in the Northeast U.S.
Uncle Am Stuart’s influence on Country Music should not be underestimated. Many of the tunes he recorded eventually were very often played on the Grand Ole Opry. A young boy named Roy Acuff heard Uncle Am perform and was inspired to play fiddle himself. He later learned “Grey Eagle” from Uncle AM’s 78 phono and a teenage Alison Krauss placed in the numerous fiddling contests decades later performing the same song. Also, according to Roy Acuff’s fiddle playin’ cousin, Charlie Acuff, Uncle Am had told the young Georgian fiddler John Carson to refer to himself as “Fiddlin” John Carson; the name stuck.