There is no better introduction to Jimmy Henley's ability than to listen to a sample of his
latest recordings, or better yet, to attend a live stage performance. His music quickly exhibits
not only his God-given talent, but the considerable experience Jimmy has acquired through
his many years of touring with Roy Clark in personal appearances around the world.
Jimmy became interested in the banjo while watching his father, James, give banjo
lessons in the home. It all began one evening when he came to his father in tears and
asked him to teach him how to play an old banjo tune called "Cripple Creek.” Rather than
spurn his request, his father decided to sit him down and let him discover on his own that he
was too little to play banjo. To his father’s amazement, Jimmy was playing the song in less
than thirty minutes.
Jimmy started playing banjo at the age of seven, his earliest "performance" being
in his first-grade classroom in Hobbs, New Mexico, followed by his first professional
show, for which he was paid twenty-five dollars. Jimmy's uncanny ability attracted a
great deal of publicity very quickly, and suddenly this seven-year-old found himself in
huge demand, performing for an ever-growing list of both public and private events. All of
this led to state-wide interest and many appearances on KBIM-TV in Roswell, New Mexico.
During his grade school years, Jimmy toured the bluegrass circuit in Tennessee, Texas,
Oklahoma and New Mexico with his father James, a former teacher and principal, and
now his personal manager. While touring, Jimmy performed with many major artists,
including Marty Stuart, Bill Monroe, Vince Gill, Lester Flatt, Glenn Campbell and other
superstars. Jimmy's progress towards stardom was astounding, and at age seven he
entered and won the Junior Division of the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship
at the Grant's Bluegrass Festival in Hugo, Oklahoma. He returned and won the
championship for two consecutive years, after which he was not allowed to compete,
but was hired the next year as a paid performer at the festival. Later that same
year Jimmy, now ten, won the World Bluegrass Banjo Championship in Memphis,
Tennessee. Competing against sixty contestants aged fifty-seven and under, and
after three long days of eliminations, ten-year-old Jimmy Henley walked away
with the first place trophy and $1,000!
A ten-year old winning a world championship is truly a phenomenon, according
to anyone's estimation. Seasoned musicians were baffled with his uncanny
ability to play with such skill and dexterity. Best put by one fan who came to