Balsam Range is a bluegrass and acoustic music group founded in 2007 in Haywood County, N.C. They are the 2014 IBMA "Entertainer of the Year" recipients as well as the 2014 IBMA "Vocal Group of the Year" winners. Balsam Range consists of five members; on fiddle and lead tenor, Buddy Melton; on mandolin and vocals, Darren Nicholson; on stand up bass, dobro and vocals, Tim Surrett; on guitar and vocals, Caleb Smith; and on banjo, Dr. Marc Pruett. They are consistently touring the United States.
Buddy Melton, (fiddle, vocals) picked up fiddle in college, and is also accomplished on the bass. He performed with Jubal Foster before joining Balsam Range. Buddy has also performed with David Holt and Doc Watson.Melton won the honor of "Male Vocalist of the Year" at the 2014 IBMA awards.
Darren Nicholson, (mandolin, vocals) has performed many times on the Grand Ole Opry stage, and has toured with The Crowe Brothers among many other artists. He is a Grammy nominee and multiple IBMA award-winner. In 2014 he released a solo album entitled "Things Left Undone" that features John Driskell Hopkins and Rhonda Vincent as well as many others.
Tim Surrett, (bass and dobro) has performed with the gospel quartet "The Kingsmen Quartet", winning multiple awards for "Gospel Musician of the Year". He also has a place in the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. Surrett has also performed with Tony Rice, Ralph Stanley, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill. In 2014, Surrett won the "Mentor" award at the IBMA's for his inspiration and work with young artists.
Caleb Smith, (guitar, vocals) performed as a founding member of gospel group "Harvest" and also won "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "Guitar Player of the Year" for the Power Grass music awards. He is also an accomplished luthier, building Smith Custom Guitars for clients such as Zac Brown
Dr. Marc Pruett, (banjo) is a Grammy-winning banjo picker who has played on 4 albums with Ricky Skaggs including his first record in 1974 and the 1997 Grammy award winner Bluegrass Rules!.He also led the "Marc Pruett Band" for 10 years. His music was used for over a dozen years in the highly acclaimed outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee, NC. Dr. Pruett earned his honorary doctorate from Western Carolina University in 2010 for his contributions to Bluegrass Music.
The band's 2013 release, "Papertown" named for their hometown of Canton, NC, (which houses a paper mill), took the honor of " Album of the Year" at the 2013 IBMA awards. The highly acclaimed project spent five consecutive months at the number one spot on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey chart. Balsam Range was also the recipient of an unprecedented six other IBMA nominations for 2013. In typical Balsam Range style, the band's response was to immediately think of fans, especially those at home in Haywood County. "We're just blown away," Tim said. "We're so proud of our home area and we get to carry this back to the real Papertown. That's what it's been about all along: the people."