Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018

Practice pays off for local fiddler

Georgia Rae.jpg
Georgia Rae Mussared won the Wisconsin State Fair Fiddlers Contest Aug. 2. She also is the current grand champion Old Time Fiddler of Illinois. Courtesy photo

Georgia Rae Mussared loves music. The Richmond native has played the fiddle for 11 years and has become really good at it. So good, in fact, that she reigns over two states.

Georgia Rae, 15, placed first in the Wisconsin State Fair Fiddlers Contest Aug. 2 in West Allis, Wis. She now is a two-state champion as she is the current grand champion Old Time Fiddler of Illinois.

“It was really fun to be there among the little kids who were there competing in their divisions,” Georgia Rae said. “It was a really good competition.”

“She was up against a few fiddlers who were very good,” her mother, Ronilyn Mussared, said and noted that she competed against the girl who beat her the year before. “It was a good, friendly competition.”

Georgia Rae started playing the fiddle when she was four years old.

“When I got my first fiddle, my mom would make me practice every day,” Georgia Rae said. “I know once I start practicing, I really enjoy it.”

Georgia Rae is the featured performer in the Georgia Rae Family Band, which includes her 18-year-old sister, Kelly Jo, who sings; her mom on guitar; and her 14-year-old sister, Quintessa, who plays mandelin and banjo and sings harmony. The band began performing together on Valentine’s Day 2011.

Ronilyn Mussared starting playing the guitar in eighth grade. She heard bluegrass music for the first time in college and really enjoyed it.

“I always wanted to have a bluegrass band,” Mussared said. “Here comes little Georgia Rae who’s always happy, listens to directions and has a great, patient disposition. She was always happy and eager to please, so I thought why not [form a bluegrass band].”

“I am so blessed,” Mussared said. “I am the luckiest mom in the world that my kids want to do this – that they let me play with them.”

The girls practice together all the time. Their mother wakes them up at 5 a.m. on school days to practice, and, sometimes late at night, they may break out their instruments.

“Most people go for a midnight snack,” Georgia Rae said. “We go for a midnight practice.”

Ronilyn Mussared said the experience has been extremely beneficial to their family.

“The kids grew close together,” Mussared said. “They are the best of friends. Our family is happier. We have a common goal. It’s fun.”

Mussared is the band’s manager but said she let’s the girls set the band’s direction.

“They pay for their own studio,” Mussared said. “They make their own decisions. I just guide them and lead and try to give them the opportunity. It’s up to them to take [the opportunity]. They’re the boss.”

Georgia Rae said she wasn’t sure what she wants to do when she graduates. She is considering being a studio musician or teaching. Currently she is teaching and has four students.

“All I know is I just want to play music for the rest of my life,” Georgia Rae said. “There are days when you are really tired and you don’t want to practice, but then we start practicing and it really cheers up your whole mood. It just makes your whole day better.”

Besides playing and teaching, Georgia Rae is the co-host of the “Starline Bluegrass Express” show on Harvard Community Radio. The show airs at 6 p.m. every Sunday on harvardcommunityradio.com.

The Georgia Rae Family Band will perform at Stage Left Café at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, to raise prize money for the Woodstock Harvest Fest fiddle contest. Georgia Rae won the contest in 2011 and 2013, and has been competing in the contest since she was 6 years old.

For information and the band’s complete schedule, visit georgiaraefamilyband.com.