Skip to main content
Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Mark Barnett

Mark Barnett’s love for music can be traced back to his father, William Barnett, an enthusiastic musician and teacher who cultivated in his son an appreciation for various instruments and kinds of music.  Mark showed great promise and through listening to the recordings of the famous 5-string banjoist Earl Scruggs, made rapid strides in technique and sensitivity.  At the age of 12, Mark met Scruggs, who was sufficiently impressed with the boy’s playing to let him obtain a great banjo from his personal collection of old Gibson Mastertone Banjos.  At that time Scruggs made a very favorable prediction:  “I feel Mark will soon be one of the greatest banjo pickers.”

 Many years later while Mark was at Earl’s home jamming with him in his kitchen, after having played the Grand Ole Opry and at Opryland 21 years, recorded and traveled to  Russia with Tennessee Ernie Ford, played for Loretta Lynn, won  an award on a  Dick Clark-produced NBC television special hosted by Gene Kelly,  and guested on shows such as the “Wayne Newton Special” and the “Dolly Parton and Carol Burnett Special” Earl in essence gave Mark with words what Barnett considers to be his biggest “trophy” “……You did it, Mark!”

Also, Mark  studied classical guitar with Christopher Parkening and Avier Calderone—both students of Andres Segovia and later performed “Sevilla” on an NBC television morning show.

Mark has taught many years on several instruments and for the past few years has been teaching violin/fiddle, bluegrass guitar, acoustic bass, dobro, 5-string banjo and mandolin at Volunteer State Community College where his ensemble “Bluegrass Ablaze” records, travels abroad, and has most recently performed at the prestigious Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Festival in southern Indiana.  Mark teaches classical mandolin, commercial mandolin, classical guitar, commercial guitar, and 5-string banjo at Belmont University.