A! Magazine for the Arts

 Lincoln Hensley (Photos contributed by Lincoln Hensley)

Lincoln Hensley (Photos contributed by Lincoln Hensley)

ETSU bluegrass student Lincoln Hensley performs at Grand Ole Opry

May 15, 2018

JOHNSON CITY - " East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies major Lincoln Hensley got the chance of a lifetime Saturday, April 27, when he performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage with bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne and his band, the Rocky Top X-Press.

Hensley, a sophomore from Flag Pond, Tennessee, first became interested in the music of the Osborne Brothers while studying banjo with local musician Edison Wallin.

As he gravitated toward the Osbornes’ style of music, Hensley eventually began to seek guidance from the banjo player who had originally recorded the parts he was trying to learn. He first contacted master musician, Grand Ole Opry member and International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame member Sonny Osborne through the popular online banjo forum Banjo Hangout. In a short while, their student-teacher relationship grew into genuine friendship, and ultimately, Hensley’s Opry debut.

On April 24, Hensley received a text message from Sonny Osborne asking if he would be interested in filling in with Bobby and the Rocky Top X-Press the following Saturday night. The next day he heard from Bobby Osborne and his son Bobby “Boj” Osborne Jr., confirming the appearance.

Hensley says he was honored by the opportunity, during which he got to play the Osborne Brothers’ signature hit “Rocky Top.”

Though the experience was something Hensley says he will never forget, he also has never been so nervous in his life. However, he says that seeing the crowd respond to his playing is one of the best feelings in the world.

“There’s something magical about playing that stage, especially with a legend like Bobby. It was unbelievable to stand on that stage with him and watch him sing his heart out to that audience,” he says. “I would like to thank both Bobby and Sonny Osborne for giving me the opportunity to perform on that stage, at such a young age, with a legend. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live.”

Hensley, a Fine and Performing Arts Scholar who will graduate from ETSU in 2020, hopes to gain more experience playing with bluegrass bands over the next several years, in preparation for working as a studio musician or even an instructor at ETSU.