Remembering Arvil Freeman

ASHEVILLE, NC (October 27, 2021) — Fiddlers and fans of music across Western North Carolina are mourning the recent loss of Arvil Freeman. Arvil grew up in the isolated Paw Paw section of Madison County and learned to play music with his brothers. While still a teenager, he fiddled on a national tour with Bascom Lunsford. He went on to play with many of the leading early bluegrass bands and was heard by countless listeners over airwaves on multiple radio shows. For years, he worked a day job as a butcher then played music at Bill Stanley’s Barbecue in Asheville at night.

As the house fiddler for numerous festivals and events, including Shindig on the Green and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, his smooth, longbow style was heard by thousands. Anyone who’s heard live music in Asheville over the past fifty years has almost certainly heard Arvil Freeman’s music. But his students are by far his greatest achievements. After years of full-time performing, Arvil shifted his focus to teaching. With limited resources from which to learn, Arvil had to work extremely hard to learn the fiddle, so he vowed to share whatever he knew with anyone who wanted to learn. Today, many of his students are professional players, many have students of their own, many enjoy playing in their living rooms, but all of them treasure Arvil’s devotion to them and to the music.

Read more about Arvil in our Traditional Artist Directory and enjoy a profile of Arvil by the North Carolina Arts Council.

Courtesy of Blue Ridge Music Trails

Arvil Freeman Obituary

Weaverville – Arvil Freeman was born April 14, 1932, in Madison County and was a resident of Buncombe County for most of his life. He was a devoted husband to Jackie Freeman.

Arvil Freeman’s true passion was a professional fiddler. He has passed on his traditions for over fifty years and is known for his distinctively personal style, smooth and melodic long bow style. He toured throughout the fifties but in the sixties, he chose to perform primarily in the Asheville area. Through performing and teaching, he has made a significant contribution to the flourishing of traditional music in the North Carolina Mountains. His reputation as the fiddler in the Asheville area, having performed at Bill Stanley’s with The Marc Pruett band for decades and with the lead band at the Shindig on the Green, and at numerous festivals and concerts in the region.

A native of Madison County he was born into a musical family in the Paw Paw community. He learned many tunes from his brothers as they grew up playing local parties and dances. He was a very influential teacher in the region and tutored such up-and-comers as Emma and Bryan McDowell, and Rhirnna Ramsey. They used the knowledge and skills gained from him to become professional musicians and well-known contest winners themselves. He has won countless fiddling competitions including the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, Union Grove, and Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.

In 2018 North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper honored him with the Heritage Award recipient. This was his biggest achievement! He was so proud, “I’m at a point in my life where I want to devote more time to teaching and passing on the tradition” — quoted Arvil Freeman.

He was the son of the late Floyd and Gladys Cooper Freeman and husband to Jackie Louise Freeman.

Preceding Mr. Freeman in death were his brothers, Gordon, Wade, and Carmen Freeman, and his sisters, Nina Roberts, Helen Rasberry, Blanche Bradley, and Lois Freeman, nephew, Terry Freeman, and niece Tina Bradley.

Surviving is his wife, Jackie Silver Freeman; daughter, Melissa Worley of Weaverville and son, Jimmy Dendy and wife Isobel of Florida, granddaughter, Kristina Proffitt Platt and husband Jesse and grandson, Mitchell Proffitt; eight great grandchildren, Aaliyah, Jacob, Isaiah, Nevaeh, Malachi, and Eliakim Platt, and Jaxon and Camilia Proffitt.

Arvil served in the Army during the Korean War.

His funeral service will be held at 2:00 pm, Sunday, October 24, 2021, in the Chapel of West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Avenue, Weaverville. Rev. Alex Hanks will officiate. Burial will follow in Nina Freeman Roberts Cemetery, Marshall.

The family will receive friends from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, Saturday, October 23, 2021, at the funeral home.

In Lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be given at for the preservation of “Arvil’s Heritage” at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival.

For those who desire, condolences may be offered to the family under Mr. Freeman’s obituary at