Virginia Folklife Program

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

In Loving Memory: Audrey Hash Ham

Posted: 2013-08-03 | Categories: Uncategorized |
Audrey Hash Ham

Audrey Hash Ham (photo by Morgan Miller)

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia have lost one of their most cherished jewels with the passing of Audrey Hash Ham. Audrey was truly a “friend of the music,” as well as to all who knew her. Perhaps the only thing that Audrey loved more than the musical traditions of the Blue Ridge were the children who lived there. She dedicated her life to teaching them to play and make fiddles, following in the footsteps of her father, the late Albert Hash, a beloved fiddler and luthier who mentored many instrument makers in Southwest Virginia, including Wayne Henderson, Gerald Anderson, Walter Messick, and Randal Eller. As a child, Audrey spent hours in Albert’s shop and stayed close to his side. Upon Albert’s passing, Audrey dedicated her life to teaching others to make fiddles, and helping to pass along the music and culture of her beloved mountains to young children.

For years, Audrey volunteered to run the Old Time Music program at the Mount Rogers Combined School, a tiny school of fewer than one hundred students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The program was later directed by banjoist Emily Spencer, the wife of Audrey’s uncle, the great fiddler Thornton Spencer. With Audrey’s guidance, countless children went on to play the music that has nurtured the region for generations.

Audrey was one of the very first participants in our Apprenticeship Program, mentoring neighbor Carl Powers in the art of fiddle making. Carl was just one of Audrey’s many apprentices. More recently Audrey shared her skills with Jackson Cunningham and Chris Testerman, now among the finest luthiers in the area.

Audrey was quite a storyteller, and one of her favorites was that when she was born, Albert paid the doctor who delivered her with one of his homemade fiddles. “When I used to aggravate him,” she liked to remember, “he used to tell me ‘You know, that was a really good fiddle!’”

What I will remember most about Audrey was her infectious smiles and laughter, which she offered generously. I will always cherish the many nights I ate Audrey’s delicious pan-fried chicken at her supper table on my visits down to Grayson County. Audrey did not have much in the way of material things, but was always quick to share whatever she had.

It is going to be hard to imagine a world without Audrey. She was a fixture at local musical gatherings and jam sessions. Rarely did she play herself, but would instead pull up a chair and smile as she listened. “I’ll tell you Jon, this just tickles me,” she often said, “I just love it so.”

We loved you too Audrey, and you will forever be missed.

-Jon Lohman

Click here to watch a video of Audrey talking about her upbringing.


  1. God rest your sweet soul, dear Audrey.

    Comment by Molly Andrews — August 4, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  2. Momma Audrey, and that’s what she was she was my “foster” momma, was the greatest person you could ever be privileged to know. Thank you for your beautiful tribute to her. We love you Momma!

    Comment by Patty Lewis — August 4, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  3. Thank you for your tribute to my dear friend. Albert, Audrey, Joyce and “The Duchess” Ethel are all together now……THE CIRCLE IS UNNBROKEN…….We will all join them someday

    Comment by Teena Morefield — August 4, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  4. Very distressed to hear about Audrey.
    She was a mentor to lots of young people.

    Comment by AnneGilbert — August 4, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

  5. Teena,
    I was really happy to see your name here….Audrey and Bob …. well you know. :)

    Comment by Patty Lewis — August 4, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  6. Patty,
    Yeah I do know! Good to here from you. I will be there tomorrow. Audrey will be missed, she was a community treasure

    Comment by Teena Morefield — August 4, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

  7. I am saddened to hear of Audrey’s passing.I knew her back in the early seventies when I lived at Grassy Creek NC and was a regular at the get togethers at Albert and Ethel’s house on White Top.She always had a big smile and was kind to everyone.I know she will be missed.
    Martin Fox Fairview, NC

    Comment by Martin Fox — August 5, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

  8. So sorry to hear of Audrey’s passing….a true jewel has walked through the gates on her way home…..

    Comment by Tami Ramsey — August 7, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  9. I remember Audrey’s mother saying how she got cards for a year after Albert died because the network kept passing the word. So many people have shared in Albert and Audrey’s legacy, including me.

    Comment by Jan Gable — August 7, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  10. The first time I met Audrey was nearly 20 years ago when I did some interviews with her about her dad. It wasn’t until later that I learned about her own achievements. What a generous and gracious heart–and an important influences on SW VA luthiers.

    Comment by Jessica Turner — August 7, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

  11. I was really looking forward to meeting her at The Albert Hash Music Festival, I recently found out that Albert is my 3rd cousin and will be attending the festival…..RIP Audrey….

    Comment by Paul Hash — August 27, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

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