Not all of Milledgeville’s history is old. And not all of it has to do with the state or the Civil War, either.

On occasion, Milledgeville is blessed by a moment of pure beauty and those persons who spend a lifetime making joyful noise.

One such person is the late Randy D. Howard, whose fiddle playing graced the albums of countless country and bluegrass musicians and provided the soundtrack to many championship afternoons at bluegrass festivals and fiddle championships.

Howard is, perhaps, the world’s most accomplished fiddle players and one of the most musically-inclined people to be raised in Milledgeville. He won the fiddle World Championship in 1979, won the Grand Master Championship on the fiddle in 1985, was an eight-time national champion, four-time Tennessee Old Time Fiddler and even won the 1990 national championship on the mandolin.

On the occasion of Howard being inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, famous guitar picker and country record producer Chet Atkins said of Howard: “I just heard the news that there is an effort to get Randy Howard into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. I believe this to be an excellent idea. I’ve tried to use the very best musicians available when I record and I used him on my last album. He’s an excellent fiddle player and I highly recommend him for the honor.”

Faye Howard, Howard’s mother who still lives in Milledgeville, said that Howard’s father taught him the rudiments of the fiddle when he was 8 or 9 years old and told him to go out on his own from there.

“Randy never came back for help,” she said. “He bought records and CDs and listened to them picking up things from the recordings.”

Howard’s talent on the fiddle and other musical instruments including mandolin, guitar and voice took Howard across the country and even overseas, performing at festivals, competitions and joining country music legends such as Bill Monroe, Chet Atkins, George Jones and even newer country phonemes like Garth Brooks, Bela Fleck and Alison Krauss.

Faye Howard said that Alison Krauss used to follow Howard around to just about every bluegrass festival at which he performed.

“Her parents would call to ask if Randy would be at certain events, he’d say yes, and they’d show up there,” Faye Howard said.

Alison Krauss called Howard “simply one of the best fiddle players that has ever lived.”

But Howard probably came into contact with the most country stars after leaving Milledgeville to be a studio musician in Nashville, the country music capital of the world.

Howard contributed fiddle to albums for Chet Atkins, Shelby Lynn, Garth Brooks, J.D. Crowe, Vince Gill and the New South. Howard recorded two of his own albums: “I Rest My Case” and his debut “Survival of the Fiddlest.”

Faye Howard said that he named his debut album “Survival of the Fiddlest” because so many musicians go to Nashville to live the musician’s life, but can’t make a living from it. Randy Howard did.

“He said music was his life, if it wasn’t for music he didn’t know what he would have done,” Faye Howard said.

But his mother said that when Randy Howard was not making people happy by playing the music he loved, he was cracking jokes to get the same effect.

At the time of his passing in June 1999, longtime friend and accompanist Sandy Dimon of Milledgeville said that Howard taught her several life lessons that can benefit us all: “When you have found your life’s work, do it well. Have fun. Remember your friends. Know who they are. Brag, if you must, on yourself, not on your connections. Enjoy a good meal. Face your troubles with humor, underpinned by strength and courage.”

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