Osceola, Lewis County
Fiddler & Music Historian
Alice Clemens of Osceola in the Tug Hill region started fiddling at the age of 7, learning dance tunes from a favorite uncle, Art Colvin. For most of her life, she played for parties and country dances near home. Toward the end of her life, however, her performing in concerts and workshops had taken her to new audiences in distant places. She collected hundreds of nearly-forgotten tunes from old-time musicians, providing the Library of Congress archives with 27 tunes thought to have disappeared from public knowledge. Clemens founded the New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers Association and co-founded the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame, which maintains an extensive archive and sponsors fiddling events each year. Clemens was especially proud of teaching her own daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandchildren to fiddle. She often said, “If you want to have fun in life, get a fiddle in your hands.”
Click and listen to the audio clips below to learn more about Alice Clemens and her music:
Alice recalls her first lessons on the fiddle at age seven.
Alice on playing for dances at old-fashioned house parties.
Alice explains her dislike for fiddle contests.
Alice plays the traditional tune, “Irish Washerwoman.”
Alice plays her own composition, “God’s Blessing on Four Strings.”