May 20, 1948 – November 20, 2016 Remembering “Al” Batten
Remembering Alton Tharse “Al” Batten (May 20, 1948 – November 20, 2016) was a founding member of the bluegrass band, Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion. For over forty years, the band toured much of the eastern United States and visited Ireland twice to perform for the International Bluegrass and Folk Festival in Omagh. They have received awards from the Eastern NC Bluegrass Association and the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, also known as Pinecone. Playing traditional bluegrass music, encouraging younger musicians, and forming friendships through his music were among his greatest joys.
Al was a graduate of North Johnston High School and North Carolina State University. He was a member and served as a deacon of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church. Al was a retired farmer, a beloved vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at North Johnston High School, and a charter member of the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department. Al loved the outdoors and hunting, and was recognized by Winchester Ammunition as the Winchester Quail Unlimited Volunteer of the Year in 2007.
I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie