Marion Sumner (known as the“Fiddle King of The South”) was an influential musician from Florida who played with flair and enthusiasm.
Raised in Vicco, Kentucky, Marion Sumner learned to play the violin as a child and became something of a prodigy. He won the fiddle contest during the 1937 Black Gold Festival in Hazrad. Throughout his career he played with many other musicians including the Payroll Boys, Cousin Emmy, Molly O’Day, Lynn Davis, Eddie Hill and Johnnie Wright.
Sumner lived up to his title of Fiddle King developing a following amongst fans of country music.
In 1979, he cut a well-received album for June Appal. In the mid-80s, he recorded two more albums, both with the assistance of Jesse McReynolds, who always held Marion’s fiddling in high regard.
He travelled extensively working the nightclub circuits of Cincinnati, Columbus and Knoxville but recorded very little. Perhaps his best-known song is ‘Lost Indian’, which appears on a number of compilations of recordings by similar artists. His work is hard to find, but can be heard on compilations released by Smithsonian Folkways.
Marion Sumner’s influence as a fiddler upon others of his generation was notable, particularly on Kenny Baker, who won wide acclaim as a sideman for Bill Monroe over a long period.
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