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Governor's Award:

The following article was posted in the Doyon Limited, March 2003 Newsletter (.pdf)

by Lanien M. Livingston, Communications Specialist

"In October 2002, Doyon shareholder William E. “Bill” Stevens received one of the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities during a ceremony held in Anchorage. Bill received the Award for Native Arts from Governor Tony Knowles. Bill stated, “This was quite an honor and I am very proud to have been given this award.”

Born in a log cabin on the Black River in Alaska, Bill was raised 35 miles away in Fort Yukon. During his early years, he often heard fiddling music at the home of his grandfather, Chief Esias Loola. As a young teenager, Bill was introduced to the Old Crow (Yukon Territory) fiddler, Paul Ben Kassi’s, type of fiddling. This had a profound effect on Bill — one that he is still passionate about today.

In his 20s, while living in California, Bill was exposed to many other types of fiddle music, such as country, bluegrass and old-time fiddling.

Bill Stevens receives his award from Governor Tony Knowles
He had a longing to return to Alaska and his fiddle music. Bill developed his own style of music while learning about others.

Bill is a member of the National Old Time Fiddle Association, and although he is nearly 70 years old, he continues to travel. In 2000, he traveled to Scotland for the Orkney Folk Festival, as well as the Lower 48, including Kentucky. Several local musicians and fiddlers often travel to events with Bill. In late February 2003, Bill performed at the Gathering of Cultures, a Founder’s Week event in Sitka. Traveling with Bill to perform at the Field House on the Mt. Edgecumbe High School campus was Walter Newman. Bill and Walter are both former Mt. Edgecumbe students. This summer will take Bill to the Mystic by the Sea Music Festival in Mystic, CT.

Bill is truly an amazing individual. He speaks openly of drinking in his early days and of his successful journey to sobriety. Bill shares his love of music with everyone he meets. He finds music in the ordinary, everyday things that surround us. Bill keeps the Athabascan style of fiddling alive through his many performances in the Interior. The preservation of fiddle music and its ties to the Athabascan culture is very important to him. Exposing our youth to this style of music is furthered each November at the Athabascan Old Time Fiddling Festival, of which Bill is one of the founding members.

Stevens has won numerous awards for his fiddle playing and has produced four CDs. His most recent CD is titled “Grey Eagle, Old Time Fiddle Music.” In late 2002, Bill underwent successful knee replacement surgery. While he was out of commission for a couple of weeks, he quickly returned to his music. Bill is not one to let anything keep him from his fiddle."