Jesse Smathers is an accomplished mandolinist, guitarist, and singer from Eden, North Carolina.
Heavily influenced by the music that runs in his family, Jesse has found inspiration and takes pride in his musical family lineage. His grandfather, Harold Smathers, and grand uncle, Luke Smathers, recorded for June Appal and were awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1993 for their contributions to North Carolina Folk Music with the Luke Smathers String Band.
Jesse began playing the guitar at age 11, picked up the mandolin at 15, and was heavily influenced by the music of Lonesome River Band. In 2009, he won the guitar championship of the Virginia Folk Music Association. The following year, he began his career as a touring musician with the James King Band, playing mandolin and singing tenor and high baritone, and later rejoined the band performing guitar and vocals. In 2013, High Voltage, featuring Jesse as the lead vocalist, won first place in the bluegrass band category at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention.
In 2014, Jesse joined Nothin’ Fancy. The same year, he was also inducted in Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity, as a Sinfonian, joining such greats as John Phillip Sousa, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Andy Griffith. The Lonesome River Band welcomed him to the group as a mandolin player and lead and tenor vocalist in 2015, and Jesse won the 2017 IBMA Momentum Award for Vocalist of the Year. Mayhayley's House, LRB's second album to feature Jesse, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2019 IBMA Awards.
Jesse now resides in Floyd, Virginia. He now performs on guitar with Lonesome River Band, and he's also a member of the core faculty at the Handmade Music School, the Floyd Country Store's traditional music school. Jesse's self-titled solo debut is slated for an early 2022 release.