Kristin's is an instrumental duet, its sweet rolling banjo bedding with the familiar melody played both by Kristin on banjo and by her husband Wayne on tremolo mandolin and mandola. Layered instrumentation and a smooth tempo give the version an effect that is reverent and stirring, haunting and hallowed.
"I've loved this song, since I was a kid. A guy at our church would sing it at every Christmas Eve service and it has always put me in the mindset of worship," says Kristin. "I originally wanted to do this as a solo banjo piece, but loved all the choir arrangements people have created, so Wayne added mandolin and mandola parts to have a similar effect."
Wayne adds, "Kristin has had a borderline obsession with this melody, to the point that she even played a version on my electric mandolin. After coming home from teaching at the Blue Ridge Banjo Camp, she was really inspired and started working on a solo version for banjo. We both thought it could benefit from some layered voices, so I played several mandolin and mandola tracks to create a choir of strings, behind the banjo."
Listen to "O Holy Night" HERE.
About Kristin Scott Benson
Kristin Scott Benson, this year's winner of the 2018 Steve Martin Prize For Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass, is also a four-time International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year. She has been a member of the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals since 2008. Her most recent album, Stringworks, was released by Mountain Home Music Company in 2016.
Kristin grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. She started playing mandolin and stepped on stage for the first time at the age of 5. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was 13, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck. After high school, she attended Nashville's esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business.
Kristin has attained a national identity as one of the top bluegrass banjo players, exhibiting impeccable taste, timing, and tone. With an attentive ear to back-up, she is known and respected as a true team player:
"There was one grass ceiling no woman could cut through-until Kristin Scott Benson came along, that is. Almost two years ago, she joined The Grascals. Not to front the band, not to sing, not to be eye candy, but instead to drive the group with her five-string banjo. Until then, no woman had ever been hired to play one of the most defining of the bluegrass instruments in an A-list, festival-headlining, all-male band....It's a high profile gig, as Kristin takes the banjo where no woman has taken it before." - Larry Nager for Bluegrass Unlimited - "Kristin Scott Benson - Cutting the Grass Ceiling" October 2010
In addition to Stringworks, Kristin has recorded two prior banjo albums, Straight Paths and Second Season. Both received stellar reviews, as well as an IBMA nomination for Instrumental of the Year for the self-penned, "Don't Tread on Me," on Second Season.