Legend has it, contemporary bluegrass picker Sammy Shelor was introduced to the banjo at age four when his grandfather fashioned him a banjo from an old pressure cooker lid. Soon after, he got a store-bought banjo of his own and he began to frequent fiddle conventions and contests near his home in southwestern Virginia. By the age of ten, Shelor was playing in bands, sticking to traditional Scruggs-style picking at a time when many young banjo players were experimenting with more progressive melodic and chromatic styles.
At the age of 19, he earned a full-time job with a professional bluegrass band, the Richmond, VA-based the Heights of Grass, which eventually evolved into the Virginia Squires featuring Rickie and Ronnie Simpkins in 1983. After the breakup of the Squires, Shelor joined the Lonesome River Band in September of 1990. Dan Tyminski and Tim Austin had been playing together for several years when Shelor and Ronnie Bowman joined, and this quartet began performing traditional bluegrass music with a decidedly youthful feel. Throughout the '90s, the lineup of the band fluctuated, with many of the artists working on each other's solo projects, but Shelor has always remained at the band's core.
Along with his work in the Lonesome River Band, Sammy Shelor has produced his own banjo instructional video, with the advice that using instructional materials like videos are a great way to supplement taking lessons, but not a substitute for actually performing with other musicians. In 1997 he released his first solo album, Leading Roll, on Sugar Hill Records for which he received the International Bluegrass Music Association award for best banjo player. This was not his first such award as he had also won in 1995, 1996, and again in 1998. ~ Zac Johnson, Rovi