Homer Ledford
1927 - 2006
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Legendary bluegrass musician and instrument maker Homer Ledford, whose work is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, died yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Ledford, of Winchester, was 79.

"He'd been sick real bad for a month or so," said Vernell Carpenter, wife of Rollie Carpenter, a member of the group Homer Ledford and the Cabin Creek Band.

The band had been performing since 1976.

"He hadn't played with the band all year," she said. "He'd been real sick and couldn't walk or anything."

Vernell Carpenter said she and Rollie Carpenter received word of Mr. Ledford's death yesterday from another member of the band, L.C. Johnson. Other band members are Marvin E. Carroll and Pamela Case.

Mr. Ledford was born Sept. 26, 1927, in the Tennessee mountains.

At an early age back in Tennessee Mr. Ledford started making musical instruments, according to his band's Web site.

At 18, he was given a scholarship to attend John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. He later attended Berea College, but transferred and graduated from what is now Eastern Kentucky University in 1954.

Mr. Ledford worked as a high school industrial arts teacher in Jefferson and Clark counties and became a full-time instrument maker.

He completed an estimated 5,776 dulcimers, 475 banjos, 26 mandolins, 26 guitars, 18 ukuleles, and four violins, among other instruments, the Web site said.

Mr. Ledford has samples of his craft in the Smithsonian Institution, including a fretless banjo, an Appalachian dulcimer, and a dulcitar, an instrument of his own invention, which he patented.

He was honored in Winchester in 1986 when the Homer Ledford Bluegrass Festival was named after him.

He was also one of the original inductees in the Kentucky Stars. A sidewalk plaque honoring him is in front of the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street in Lexington.

In 2005, Mr. Ledford helped restore an 1850 Martin parlor guitar – played by Henry Clay's granddaughter, Anne Clay McDowell – for Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate.

"Homer was a delight to work with, and until I showed up on his doorstep, he had only worked on one other Martin guitar dating to the 19th century," Ann Hagan-Michel, executive director of the estate, said at that time. "He's done a wonderful job, and the guitar is playing nicely now."

He is survived by his wife, Colista. The two met as students at Berea College in the late 1940s. They were married more than 50 years.

Information on funeral arrangements was not available last night.Mr. Ledford
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader on Dec. 12, 2006.
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50 entries
May 7, 2020
Homer and I were fellow students at Berea College. and I was proud to consider both Homer and his Colista as my friends. I am certainly non-musical (my field was Physics, and I spent my working life in the Nuclear Industry, but I followed Homer's life. I hope that he has been assigned a woodworking shop in Heaven and can perhaps branch into harp production. May he rest in well deserved peace.
Raymond Beverly
July 19, 2013
I have the last mandolin homer ledford made its number 28 and is a F 5
Christle Robinson
April 14, 2010
I was fortunate to have lived in Lexington in 1986, picked for hours at the festival for him in Winchester, his band played at the park real close to where I was living in Lexington, met, & learned to play the dulcimer at a local book store where he was, & I feel extremely blessed by this man's presence! He will definitely be missed - by me, & others! Rest in peace, Homer! Ray Dennis Withrow/Pres. of No Creek Music (ASCAP)
April 1, 2010
For Homer...On a quiet morning
if one listens carefully
they can hear your music.


Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other side of pain...on the other side of darkness.

Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms.

I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour of need, I will be there to comfort you. I will share your tears, your joys, your fears, your disappointments and your triumphs.

Do not weep for me, for I am cradled
in the arms of God. I walk with the angels, and hear the music beyond the stars.

Do not weep for me, for I am within you;
I am peace, love, I am a soft wind that caresses the flowers. I am the calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumns leaf that floats among the garden of God, and I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand.

Do not weep for me, for I shall never die, as long as you remember me...
with a smile and a sigh.

© Joe Fazio
jfazio@gmail.com /Joe Fazio,
Beverly Hills, California
February 8, 2010
Colista and family,
One of my fondest memories is listening to Homer play
when the neighbors got together in
the empty lot next to our house and the musicians jammed.
I guess I was about 12 years old. I remember Homer as a fun and humble man. May happy memories continue to
comfort you.
Karen Ockers
August 16, 2009
As an Industrial Arts student of Homer's in 1959 and 1960, I learned about his appreciation for doing things the right way. A lesson that I am sure many of us have carried with us throughout our lives.
He was simply an "ARTIST" and a Gentleman.
Jim Baber
July 8, 2009
I am honored to have recently acquired Homer Ledford's #27 F-5 style mandolin.
I happened by it from a classified ad on www.mandolincafe.com and had to take a look because our last names are the same - even though we are not directly related.
Well, it's a fine mandolin and I am proud to own and play it.
It is my understanding this is the last F-5 style mandolin Homer created before his passing on.
So from one Ledford to another, #27 is in a good home and is being played just as Homer would want it to be.
Doug Ledford
August 24, 2008
To all the Ledford family,
I count it a privilege to have met Homer Ledford and to have heard him in concert in Grant County, KY. I also thoroughly enjoyed the KET program which showed how he made these lovely instruments.
Now, finally, I have been privileged to purchase one of my own! It is one of his sweetheart dulcimers made in 1980. It is not only a beautiful work of art, but plays easily and sweetly.
Homer Ledford was the sort of talented-yet-humble person that anyone would have wanted at their family dinner table. You all were certainly blessed to have had him in your lives.
Homer's music will always live on as each generation hears his music and learns to play his wonderful instruments. Mine is certainly treasured...and I cannot play it without thinking of the fine man who fashioned it.
My sympathy to you all, and God bless you!
Jan Potts
June 4, 2008
Hi, I was thinking of Homer tonight as I worked on my computer and found this. My parents and aunts were members of the Lexington Folksingers for many years with Homer and Colista. They were so fond of them. I always enjoyed the chance to talk to Homer and hear him play. Thanks to my family, I have two lovely dulcimers he made to remember him by.
Kay Schafer
January 30, 2008
What a great guy.
August 26, 2007
A friend sent me the article from a Louisville,KY newspaper to me. Mr. Ledford looks so much like my brother, Dennis Ledford, who is also a self-made, accomplished musician. Our sincere sympathies. Heaven's music will be all the sweeter with Homer lending his talent to the Angel Band.
Diane Ledford married name Poole
May 4, 2007
I'm so sorry to learn of Mr. Ledford's passing, though I know he is most certainly in the most happy and satisfying of homes. Our musical loss is, of course, Heaven's gain! And I'm sure there's a lot more foot tappin' going on now than has ever been heard on that side of the pearly gates!

I met Mr. Ledford while a student at Eastern Kentucky University and working a summer job at Camp Wesley Woods in Winchester. He gave of his time in entertaining disabled young campers. I assure you the camp staff appreciated his talent as much as the kids.

That was in the summer of '78. Over the years I'd run into him at festivals and shows around Appalachia. I'd always ask him about ordering a Ledford Guitar, and he'd try to talk me into a Martin, instead.

I'd rather have a Ledford.
Doug Fruchtenicht
April 12, 2007
Dear Colista and family, My family and i send our sincere condolences on the sad passing of Homer one of the Masters of Bluegrass Music.I had the pleasure of meeting him twice in Athy Ireland at the Bluegrass festival.A wonderful human being and a talented musician and craftsman.He will be missed.
Molly Kavanagh
April 2, 2007
Ever see a smile that was a wave from God?
I think Homer had it....
Lisa Caldwell
March 12, 2007
So sorry to hear of Homer's passing. I had the pleasure of meeting Homer and the Band on 3 occasions. Twice in Athy Ireland and one on a trip with our band The Flint Hill Boys to Lexington in 1994. A great musician and a gentleman.
Tom Poole
February 24, 2007
Dear Colista and Family
Just wanted to let you know that we
thinking about and praying for you and your family. even though we have never met. You are a very special friend of ours and Arlos remembers so many good times with Homer during their younger days.
May the Lord give you the stength for this difficult time.
Arlos and Betty Ledbetter
Arlos and Betty Ledbetter
January 24, 2007
I met Homer at Blue Ridge Assembly, a conference center in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I worked on the staff and attended workshops Homer conducted. His saw and the little man jumping when he tapped his foot and his redition of Cripple Creek were not only unique but very authentically Homer. I met him severl times over the years and he was always the same man on and off stage. Our state, our craft has lost something today. He will be missed.

My God grant you peace for the living of these days...
Conway Stone
January 22, 2007
My sympathy/condolences to your family. Homer adjusted my son's guitar in his shop when the boy was 12, and he has valued it so ever since. As a toddler he heard Homer play at the LEX children's museum. That remains a fond memory for our family. This is a huge loss to Clark county.And the instrument sounded so much better after Homer's magic
jonn bruce
January 18, 2007
I am sorry to hear of the passing of Homer,I have been priviledged to know such a fine man.He will be greatly missed.
Ben Gullett
January 13, 2007
Dear Colista & family,

I'm so sorry about Homer passing away. He was a very special person and I'm so grateful I got to meet you all at the Folk School and become friends. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Brenda Kay Ledford
Brenda Kay Ledford
January 9, 2007
i would like to say that i loved him very much he encouraged me and told me to keep playing (i am beckie hattons niece and i am 11 years old and i play in the the oink strings.)
January 8, 2007
To the family he left behind:
Thank you for sharing this wonderful man with all the bluegrass people he knew. I visited his workshop many times and always enjoyed listening to his stories and always enjoyed our visits. He was such a talented man, always kind, always helpful, always generous. He will be deeply missed for many years to come by all those who knew him. I have been blessed to have known him.
Love and prayers to Colista and his children.
Beckie Hatton
January 1, 2007
I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Ledfords passing. I just met him online in February of 2006. He sent me his book with CD. I wondered if he was any distant relation to my husbands family. I would have liked to have met him. He was so nice in the few e-mails we passed. May the family be comforted with memories.
Susan & Roy Ledford
December 28, 2006
Dearest Colista & Family,

I just heard the news today from a Woodsongs friend. How sad I am over your--"our" (all who loved him and his music)--loss.

Homer was an amazing man...humble, talented, kind....and a real grassroots mountain music lover!!! He was the source of many joyful hugs and cheerful smiles over the years whenever I ran across him playing at a festival or when he would come to a Woodsongs show. It was always a special treat to have him visit with us whether he was playing on stage or just came to enjoy the show. I remember how he always smiled when he heard that familiar "Colista's Jam" song ~ what a great love he had for you!

Homer and I talked about having him build a dulcimer for me someday. I wanted so badly to learn to play on an instrument that Homer built, not only because he built the best--superior craftsmanship and tonal quality--but also because I believed that he added a little something extra--it was as though Homer left a bit of his spirit in each instrument he crafted.

Homer was a joy and inspiration to all--musicians and music lovers alike! He will be terribly missed but my guess is that he's probably making the most beautiful music of his life and will continue doing so until we see him again "a little further up the creek!" God Bless You!
Peejay/PJ Tyler
December 27, 2006
Homer was a very nice guy, who would help you with any questions you may have about instruments, Arthur got to be in the Instrument makers tent with Homer at the Ky Folklife Fest. in Frankfort. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the family.
December 26, 2006
Colista and Family
I was saddened to hear about Homer's death.We were college students together at Berea College 1953.
Lola Aaron
December 26, 2006
Dear Ledford Family, My thoughts and prayers are with you during this season of grief. I got to hear Homer play a few years ago at a church convention. But fondly recall getting a tour of his work area 15 yrs ago. Thank you for sharing him with so many.
Jane Greenfield Moscoe
December 25, 2006
Dear Colista and Family:

We remember Homer holding our 2 year old son on his lap and playing the banjo at the Lions Club Park. He thrilled our son so much, just as he did with so many people he met.
Pryor and Audenna Phillips
December 22, 2006
I first heard Homer and Cabin Creek`s at the original and first Athy Bluegrass festival, I met him 3 or 4 times, he was one of Life`s Gentlemen, he`ll be sadly missed.
Bill Andrews
December 21, 2006
Originally from Corbin, Kentucky, I have known of Homer for many years. But, never have the good luck to meet him. I think God just needed a good musician, so he called Homer to join the band.
Leland Thorpe
December 21, 2006
Dear Colista & Family,

Although we never met Homer 'in person', we did correspond with him a lot via e-mail & snail mail! I have one of his custom-made banjos (affectionately christened 'Homer') & that is how my hubby & I came to know Homer. We were so excited with the acquisiton of that banjo (supposedly 'used', but I don't think it had ever been played!) that we did a web search of Homer & found his e-mail address & sent him a note to tell him how impressed we were with his workmanship. From there, a friendship was born! Eventually we also acquired one of Homer's mandolins, & also a dulcimer. Homer was a true gentleman, a fabulous musician, & a wonderful luthier. He was a breath of fresh air in this world, & we will always hold him in our hearts.

We are so sorry to hear of Homer's passing. You & your family, Colista, are in our prayers.

Extending our love,
Robbin & Kerry Sneddon
December 21, 2006
Homer Ledford and the Cabin Creek Band came to play at the very first Athy Bluegrass Festival in Ireland some years ago. We had a fledgling local bluegrass band called the Flint Hill Boys and were awestruck at their wonderful musical talent, good humor and generosity of spirit. Over the years we became great friends and many of our songs, tunes and memories are linked to Homer. We had the great pleasure of meeting Homer, Colista and the band in Kentucky on two occasions, where we had an opportunity to enjoy their unique hospitality, pick with the band and appreciate Homer’s superb skills as a luthier and. master-craftsman. Homer to me represented all that is good in humanity and the world is a sadder place for his passing. We have a saying in Ireland ‘ni bfeicimid a leithead aris’ (we will not see his likes again). Never was it more appropriate. God bless ‘Pop’ and slan abhaile (safe home). Gerry Madden and all your Irish friends.
Gerry Madden
December 20, 2006
I have met Mr. Ledford numerous times at the Appalachain Festival in Cincinnati. I was always impressed at his skill. Anyone that can craft a musical instrument is fascinating. To be the best is phenominal.

Kentucky has lost a great treasure.

May your family cherish your memories.
Marc O'Hara
December 19, 2006
Dear Colista & Family,

We felt a deep loss when we read the notice of Homer's passing. He made two mountain banjos for me in the mid to late 1960s and I enjoyed meeting with him in your home. He later made a special dulcimer for Vivian. Vivian visits the John Campbell Folk Scool and is aware of Homer's connection there.

We keep his instruments on display in our home and will always remember what a wonderful person he was. God Bless and take care.
James & Vivian Lafferty
December 19, 2006
Hi all, I just heard the news from Melissa. My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you all and prayers for comfort and healing. Although I have not seen you all in many years, I would think about you and wonder how everything was and hoping life was treating everyone well. I will never forget spending time with Homer, Admiring his work and Craftsmanship, Telling bad jokes and making him laugh and sitting down in the living room and playing a guitar or Dulcimer with him. Learning songs or making up a few. He will be missed greatly I know. Much love,

Wayne Eubanks
Wayne Eubanks
December 19, 2006
Mark (& family),
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I only met your Dad once, but he seemed to be a wonderful, kind man. Every conversation we ever had about him gave me the impression he must have been just a wonderful father, in addition to his other talents. The family, and Kentucky and the music industry, have been dealt an awful blow.
Jeannie Oldham
December 18, 2006
We love you and will treasure the time we were able to share with you and Homer. Thank you for sharing him with his many admirers. He was a wonderfully sweet man, an inspiration in times such as these: kind, generous, loving, patient, good-humored in his nature. Our hearts go out to you and the children at this time. We know he no longer suffers; that makes his passing less painful for us. What a privilege it was to have met him and spent time with him. I'm going to take violin lessons again and maybe I'll be able to play the fiddle yet. Bud and I will keep in touch with you. We will miss the Tressure of Kentucky and Winchester but will continue to delight in his memory, his music, and his writings.
Our love to you,
Bud and Suzi Richards
Suzi Richards
December 18, 2006

I am so sad to hear about the passing of your dad. I'll never forget when I met him at your home, so many years ago. He was such a joy.

I hope all is well with you.
Kathryn (Enochs) Herzog
December 17, 2006
Mr. Ledford was my home room teacher at Winchester High School (1957-1960), and I remember him as a quiet and unassuming man. Who would have thought, at that time, how far-reaching his influence would be?
Vicky (Gough) Dixon
December 17, 2006
Dear Colista and family,
I just learned late last night of Homer's death, and the shock of the news hit me like a ton of bricks. It is hard for me to think of this world without Homer!
I first met him back in the 1970's at an Appalachian festival in Cincinnati. I fell in love with one of his dulcimers on display, but had no funds to make such a purchase. Homer must have figured out how badly I wanted one of his instruments, and so he asked me if I had anything I would like to trade. I told him I had a guitar---not the greatest of guitars. He said he'd like to take a look at it. I went and got it and brought it to him, and he offered to trade me for one of his beautiful new dulcimers. I knew I had gotten the better part of this deal!
Over the years, I have purchased quite a few of Homer's dulcimers. A few are my own and some have been given away as gifts. Each time I called Homer to place an order, I felt as if I was calling a long, lost friend. He always treated me with the utmost kindness. He was always the perfect gentleman, always so very compassionate. As I type this letter, I sit here looking at one of Homer's instruments. I have always loved it, but now in light of Homer's passing, I cherish it even more.
I'm not sure what kind of music the angels sing in heaven, but I know this for sure: now that Homer has made it home, there's gonna be a lot of bluegrass heard in those heavenly hallways.
Thank you, Homer, for gracing our lives with your goodness. We look forward to seeing you again one day!

Brother Mark Ligett, OFM
Brother Mark Ligett
December 16, 2006

I loved Homer Ledford. I haven't saw him in many years, but as a child/early teen getting started in music, I would spend the entire Cincinnati Appalachian Festival hovering at his booth, playing everything he brought with him. He was always patient and encouraging, and is one of the reasons that I decided to be a musician. His dedication to family and Christian faith is most commendable, as the world is full of mere musicians. Homer was a real man, and a shining example of:
A. How a musical ambassador should conduct himself.

B. How a musician can live a great life without succumbing to all the vices.

Being a born-again Christian believer myself, I will see Homer again!

Offering my condolences to the family,
Roscoe Morgan
Roscoe Morgan
December 15, 2006
Homer's music carries on in BC
I met Homer at Edna Baker's singing session in Lexington in about 1975 when I worked at U of K. He found out I played the fiddle, and I guess they were hard up for fiddlers, because I was rather green then. It was soon after that the Cabin Creek Band formed. We practiced at Homer and Colista's. They were like parents to me. Homer taught me tunes and tricks, like playing Boil the Cabbages behind my back. He always made me play the courting dulcimer with him whenever we performed. Don't know why he he didn't ask Mike or John or Dave!

I just got out my dulcimer (Ledford #4125) and played the harmony part to Simple Gifts so that Homer could play along.

I now teach violin and fiddle in BC. All this week I have taught my students how to fiddle behind their backs. Homer's tricks and tunes live on.

My best to Colista, Cindy, Julie, Mark, and Mattie Lee. Love you. I learned so much from Homer and still play lots of those old tunes.

We get together every Friday, pick and grin and eat beans and cornbread.

Colista, when things settle down, you need to send me your mother's recipe for soupbeans. One of my favorite memories of those Kentucky days was going with you and Homer to your Mom's place in I think it was West Virginia, sitting on the front porch watching coal trucks roll by and eating Mattie Spradlin's soupbeans.

Wish I could be there today. Kathy

PS, Last Sunday, Homer talked to me in a dream. Cindy, make sure you check your emails, I'd like to talk to you about it some time.
Kathy Angermeyer
December 15, 2006
My thoughts & prayers are with you during this difficult loss. To be able to touch so many lives in such a positive mannner as Mr Ledford did, is truly special. He truly has left a legacy with his music for which we should all be proud of. God bless Cindy, Julie & Mattie Lee you and your family helped create wonderful memories growing up which I cherish.
Jane Hay Steele
December 15, 2006
I've listened to Mr. Ledford's music with such admiration for many years, from the time when I was a Berea College student in the 70's.
A few years ago I had a crafts booth in Winchester and the Cabin Creek Band was playing. I knew I had to go listen, so I left my booth unattended the whole time they played, because I knew I was getting to listen to some legendary musicians.
My sister-in-law has spoken of him many times over the years, as she grew up in Alpine, Tennessee and is preparing to return there soon in retirement. It is ironic that about a month ago I bought Mr. Ledford's book of stories with his CD enclosed to give to her and my brother for Christmas this year. I knew it was the perfect gift for them as soon as I found it. Now, along with it I will enclose this week's articles so she can keep them with the book.
My prayers go out to all the family during this difficult time of loss. Cherish the wonderful memories of such a fine man.
Patty Davidson
December 15, 2006
My deepest sympathies to the Ledford family. In the summer of 2005 Homer and Colista agreed to appear in a bluegrass music video that I was co-directing for Doyle Lawson. I had known Homer all of my life. I suppose everyone that grew up or lived in Winchester knew Homer. I will never forget the time I got to spend with him that day talking about music, his instruments, and his life. God bless you.
Lark Watts
December 14, 2006
I had Homer as a teacher in the mid 1950s Winchester High School. He was the kindest,gentlest man I ever knew. I also enjoyed his music very much. He will be sorely missed.
Ersal Ferrell
December 14, 2006
There aren't enough superlatives to describe such a wonderful friend, just treasured memories from having known such a gentle, kind, intelligent and loving man. It makes one wonder what the would would be like if folks of Homer's ilk were in leadership roles around the world. He was truly one of God's angels on earth, and certainly now one in Heaven. Thank you Lord for the tremendous blessings of Homer's loving friendship.
Bill Johnson
December 14, 2006
I write this evening as one of the lucky souls able to spend some wonderful hours at the little shop on Sunset Heights and being fortunate to appear onstage with Homer Ledford.Ever the teacher,I think of something I picked up from him over the past 20 years anytime I try to do something (poorly)to my banjo. If all we take with us is what we gave away,Mr. Homer will take with him what few ever have.Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Colista and the family.God Bless .
Dean Osborne
December 14, 2006
I remember coming to the house with my dad, Elbert Neal, many a time. I was always awed by the talent, not only musically, but in the making of instruments. My dad purchased many a guitar from Homer. He will be greatly missed.
Kathy Neal Clemons
December 14, 2006
Perhaps you remember me as a student at Berea when you and Homer were there. My memories of Homer are of a young man with much talent and a friend to all. I add my sympathy to the many tributes posted on this Guest Book. It seems he was loved and respected by all who knew him. May you take solace in this love and respect, knowing that he lives on in the hearts of many friends.
Nannie Harris Sevy
Berea College, 1952.
Nan Harris Sevy
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