I’m always amazed when I meet someone who is not only talented, but also has the hard work ethic to back it up.
Ridge Roberts is one of those people. Not only is he wildly talented, but he is also one of the most determined, charming boys I’ve ever met.
At just 11 years old, Ridge is already an accomplished fiddle player. He practices playing his fiddle for an hour or more each day and fine tunes his skills by putting on shows for the residents of nursing homes and assisted living centers all across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Ridge recently won first place in his age group at the Colorado Fiddle Championships in Denver. He will compete in the National Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho this June.
Remarkably, Ridge doesn’t read music – he plays everything by ear. He memorizes all of his songs – and has even started to compose some himself.
Ridge can thank his dad John Roberts – and the bargain he made with a friend – for the opportunity to learn to play the fiddle.
“My dad’s friend wanted him to help build a house,” Ridge said. “My dad told his friend that he would help if he taught him to play the fiddle.”
John did learn to play from his friend and then taught Ridge to play when he was 7 years old. Ridge played for about a year before he started performing. His first performance was at a local school.
“About 2 years ago a newspaper article about Ridge really got the ball rolling and people started calling and wanting Ridge to perform for them,” said his mom Cindy Roberts. “There was a whole underground movement. I didn’t realize that so many organizations, women’s groups and senior centers hired people to come play for their monthly meetings.”
In September of 2013 Ridge started taking fiddle lessons in Burleson, Texas from the famous Grammy-award-winning musician Joey McKenzie.
“I took about a year off from performing – other than for a few nursing homes,” Ridge said. “My teacher really wanted me to spend time working on getting my technique right.”
Ridge invested hours in fine-tuning his skills. He began performing more this fall. Every Thursday he plays at assisted living centers across North Central Texas.
One of Ridge’s favorite things about playing for people is seeing their reactions to his music.
“At one nursing home I played at, a man – who hadn’t smiled for 6 weeks – came out of his room dancing when he heard the music, “ Ridge said.
Another one of his performances brought tears to a nurse’s eyes when her patient, a woman who had never spoken since arriving at the care facility, started singing a song that Ridge played.
In the future, Ridge hopes he can become a solo performer, teach others how to play the fiddle, and win more fiddle contests.
One of the highlights of his career so far is playing with Vince Gill’s band The Time Jumpers at a fiddle competition. He played in their show, and got a high five from Vince Gill.
“I also got to play in the green room with the triple fiddlers who do harmonies,” Ridge said. “When I was leaving, Vince Gill told me that he had a job from him when I got older. “
When Ridge isn’t playing his fiddle or listening to fiddle music he likes to spend time with his brothers Aedan and Rio, take photos, practice playing guitar, collect Bibles and go antiquing with his mom.