A journey through music...
"I began playing the fiddle at the age of 7, only finally after mom and dad would allow me to start taking lessons. I can remember from a very early age wanting Aunt Bettie to let me play her fiddle. I come from a long heritage of musicians, notably violinists and fiddle players. My late Aunt Bettie Freel, well-known musician and music teacher in the San Luis Valley, Colorado; and deceased Grandmother, Virginia Marie Bond- Riggenbach, violin virtuoso, The Juilliard School of Music graduate and teacher of violins at the Brearley School for Girls in New York City, and founder of Riggenbach School of Music in Alamosa, CO. Before Grandma Rie’, my great-grandma Merna played piano and one of my great-grandfather’s played fiddle. I almost feel a high responsibility to keep the music going!
“Aunt Bettie was playing part time with weekend bands in the area, as well as teaching 40+ students on a weekly basis. She became very ill, so at the age of 14, I stepped into her shoes,I thought only for a short time, doing both while still keeping up my grades in school until I graduated. Unfortunately, she passed from breast cancer when I turned 17. I had a glimpse into what I wanted my career to be, and decided to pursue it into college and beyond. Happy with my choice, I am now doing what I love - performing with amazing artists and musicians, recording music, traveling, and carrying on the music legacy torch.”
A Colorado native with a rich musical heritage, unprecedented passion, and dedication, Merna Lewis is a force behind the fiddle. Every melody born from years of trial by fire, education, and persistence. You don’t just listen to Merna play the fiddle; you FEEL her play the fiddle. Pieces of the Colorado mountain tops, the Texas plains, and the Nashville honkytonks are evident with every performance.
Merna earned her Associate of Applied Arts Degree in Commercial Music from South Plains College, Levelland, TX in 2002. She moved to Nashville in 2003 and immediately ranked as one of the first call fiddle players for the lower Broadway Honky-tonks, which led to touring opportunities with Trent Willmon and Tanya Tucker and many regional artists, and as well as studio recording sessions, music videos, media releases and honors.
Recently, Merna was nominated IWMA (International Western Music Association) Musician of the Year, 2023! She has been featured in a number of media publications including Nashville Voyager "Conversations with Merna Lewis" 2022, CanvasRebel "Meet Merna Lewis", and The Human Interest Story "The Becoming of the Barefoot Fiddler" 2020. She has also recorded with Clayton Q on "Kiss my Kash" which is the intro jingle for Jack Vale's podcast on CircleAllAccess, as well as with Mark Allen on "Coast 2 Country" jingle for Lisa Galvani's Radio Show 'Coast 2 Country Music Show' featured on Lyme Bay Radio.
Merna lives in Nashville with her husband of 17 years, Phil Lewis, and travels occasionally with Nashville new supergroup, Gone With the West, a collaboration of award winning artists/songwriters/musicians, Mary Kay Holt, Micki Fuhrman and Tecia McKenna. They are writing new music, preparing a new single to be released in 2024 and a supporting mini-tour back out West in the late spring/summer. She is also working on a project researching and learning about her Grandma’ Rie’s intriguing musical history and bringing her music to life!
You can hear Merna playing on many independent artist CDs and EPs. When she’s not in the studio or on tour, you might still catch her playing in the Nashville honky-tonk bars.
Visit the page below for more credits and accolades. Merna is a rising artist to be watched!