Anita Sorrells Wheeler was the only girl to win the fiddlers’ contest at the Georgia Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. She won in 1931 then again in 1935. This is a small painting I did of her using acrylic and cotton lace.
“Atlanta fiddler Barbara Panter-Connah, who performs frequently in the region with her bands Hair Of The Dog and the Rosin Sisters, befriended convention-era musician Anita Sorrels Wheeler Mathis during the ’90s and for several years visited her retirement home, discussing the past and playing fiddle together. She recalls Mathis’ account of the conflict over women playing in the competition. “I was 15 years old and playing in my family string band,” Mathis told her, “and the family demanded I be allowed to compete. Some players were ok with it, but others were saying ‘No girls!’ I think Fiddlin’ John Carson was the loudest opponent, but he was just a big old bag of wind!” Mathis took second place in her convention debut and was the first woman to win the competition outright in 1931. She also added a second win in 1934.”
From Gentlemen, Start your Fiddles! by James Kelly