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March 5, 2009
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.




Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 8 p.m.          


FAIRFAX, Va., March 4, 2009Thrilling audiences from coast to coast, this dynamic family band plays bluegrass in its own style: driving it hard and serving it straight up. Cherryholmes delighted audiences when they last performed at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in 2007, and they return to the Center for a spectacular night of bluegrass on Saturday, April 4 at 8 p.m. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Cherryholmes has many qualities that make them unique, but their success lies in plain, old-fashioned hard work combined with dazzling talent that only appears to shine more brightly with each performance. All six members pool their creative ideas to form their own new brand of bluegrass music, and each musician takes a turn singing lead and showcasing his or her abilities. Cherryholmes’ live shows include twin fiddles, Irish step dancing, classic country yodeling and old-time claw hammer in addition to their vibrant bluegrass music.

As little as 10 years ago, this incredible group did not exist, and half of its youthful members hadn’t even picked up an instrument. Jere and Sandy Lee Cherryholmes met in their church, married and began raising their family outside of Los Angeles, with Jere working as a carpenter and Sandy Lee home-schooling their children. In 1999, their eldest daughter Shelly died in her sleep from respiratory failure due to chronic heart problems. Shortly after her death, the family heard about a bluegrass festival and decided to attend to lift their spirits.

“It changed our entire lives, going to that bluegrass festival and spending that day with [our children],” Sandy Lee said. “On the way home, Jere said, ‘You know what we really need right now is to do something special with our kids. Let’s start a bluegrass group.’ We decided who would play what and I started giving them music lesson.”

A decade later, the couple and four of their children – Cia Leigh, B.J., Skip and Molly Kate – have received several Grammy nominations, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award for “Entertainer of the Year,” a regular gig at the historic Grand Ole Opry and a touring schedule of almost 300 days a year. In addition to bass, Jere serves as the band’s manager and sings, while Sandy Lee serves as administrator, plays mandolin and sings harmony. Cia Leigh started out playing guitar at age 15, and switched to banjo a year later. She was named the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s (SPBGMA) banjo player of the year for 2005 and 2006. B.J. began playing fiddle at age 11, and he is featured on Rhonda Vincent’s live concert DVD and CD, “Ragin’ Live.” Skip began playing mandolin at 9 years old and switched to guitar a year later, and he has been featured in Flat-Picking Guitar Magazine. Cherryholmes’ youngest member, Molly Kate, began playing fiddle at age 6. She was a 2004 IBMA nominee for fiddler of the year, and SPBGMA nominated her as 2005’s fiddler of the year. Cherryholmes has received industry nominations and awards, including Grammy nominations for their albums “Cherryholmes,” “Cherryholmes II: Black and White” and, most recently, “Don’t Believe,” on Skaggs Family Records.

Jere sums the band up in this way: “I heard someone say that bluegrass music has to change or evolve, or it will die. I don’t really think it needs to be changed.  It just needs new breath.  I feel like maybe I’m offering that with my family.”


The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.

Tickets for CHERRYHOLMES  are $44, $36, $22 Family Friendly!  All children, 12 and under, half price! Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.