Jim "Texas Shorty" Chanellor

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor

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Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor

Jim “Texas Shorty" Chancellor, is a living legend in the world of fiddling. He is nationally acknowledged to be one of the masters of fiddling. Best known for Texas-style fiddling, Chancellor is a master of many styles. Born in 1943 in Dallas County, Texas, Jim credits his father, James Houston Chancellor, with getting him and his brothers into music. When he was seven years old, his father brought home a mandolin and said whoever learned it first could have the instrument. By the age of nine, he was playing mandolin over KTER radio with his older brother Allen on guitar, where he became "Shorty" of "The Texas Al and Shorty Show".

As a teenager, Chancellor heard the World Champion fiddler Benny Thomasson, which inspired him and caused him to put away his mandolin and begin to learn fiddle under Thomasson's teaching. He started attending various fiddle contests and jam sessions, where he met a who's-who of Texas fiddlers, including Eck Robertson, Major Franklin, Norman and Vernon Soloman. He commented, "I've compared the luck that I had in learning to play the fiddle with an artist being born on the same street as Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Picasso,·having everybody on his block that he could meet with and learn from." Chancellor learned tunes and techniques from all these great fiddlers and while Benny was the primary influence, they all contributed to his style.

Chancellor is credited as the youngest fiddler to win the World Championship in Crockett, Texas, at age 16. He went on to win the contest three consecutive times in 1955, ‘56, & ‘57. As the youngest ever "World's Champion Fiddler," he was featured on the New York television program "To Tell the Truth." He went on to win the World Championship contest in 1960 and 1961 and was retired as "World Champion" at age nineteen. Chancellor was one of the first Texas fiddlers to market his recordings in the 1960s with a series of 45s on Golden Bow records.

He served in the Army and later began a long career in management with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, but he didn’t stop playing and winning contests. In addition to multiple World Championship wins, Chancellor's accomplishments include five Texas State Championships, membership in the Texas Fiddler Hall of Fame, and winning the Grand Masters in Nashville in 1979.

He recorded the album, The Best Of Texas Shorty, in the 1970s, accompanied by his younger brother Robert, who had become an accomplished rhythm guitarist, Jerry Thomasson on tenor guitar, and Elden Graham on bass.

In 1980, Jim met Dallas multi-instrumentalist Gerald Jones. Gerald's wide musical tastes appealed to Jim and the two began to make music together. They added Leigh Taylor on bass and began performing as "Acoustic Plus," playing a mix of country, swing, pop, bluegrass, and old time fiddle tunes.

In the 1980s, Chancellor recorded·Texas Shorty, World Champion Fiddler, which featured musicians Mark O'Connor and Sam Bush, as well as his brother Robert Chancellor. Shorty recorded·Old Sport in 1994, an album of diverse old time tunes accompanied by Nashville songwriter, performer, recording artist and friend, John Hartford.

In 2009, Chancellor married Ruthie, the love of his life, and a credible bass player. He enjoys being with Ruthie, family and friends, and many accompanied him to Washington, D.C. as he received a very prestigious national honor. In 2010, he became a Fellow of the NEA National Heritage Award, which included his performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He has performed on countless live concerts and has made television appearances with many outstanding musicians and stars.

Texas Shorty continues to teach a new generation of fiddlers through classes and workshops, usually with his wife Ruthie on bass and at his side. His fiddle style and arrangements have inspired and had a lasting impact on fiddlers of all ages. He has recently stopped traveling due to health concerns, but he is thrilled and honored to be a 2019 inductee into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame.

Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2019.