CBA Ambassador and Lifetime Member Frank Solivan Sr. passed away at the end of August 2023 breaking the hearts of generations of young musicians and their families whom he loved and supported for three decades. Frank, with his mustache and smile, was known by thousands in the worldwide bluegrass community for his love and support of his musician son Frank Solivan II (Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen) and for his lifelong work with young musicians.
The California Bluegrass Association has led the way in emphasizing programs for Youth with Frank Solivan Sr. designing and developing the first Kids on Bluegrass Program in the early 1990s. Frank’s vision was also implemented at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) World of Bluegrass with Kim Fox directing the first IBMA KOB program in Nashville with Frank assisting. Many other festivals have followed suit.
Frank retired from Kids on Bluegrass in 2019 and personally designated Helen Foley Garrett as his successor and the CBA KOB program is stronger than ever. The CBA also continues to support our young musicians who apply for and are accepted into the IBMA KOB program at the annual World of Bluegrass event in Raleigh.
We created Frank’s Fund with the goal of expanding Kids on Bluegrass and our outreach and support of young musicians in California and beyond. 100% of all tax deductible dollars donated will go to our budgeted programs for KOB in the name of Frank Solivan Sr.
My dad’s Kids on Bluegrass program is THE original bluegrass music encouragement program, where young, aspiring musicians have found community with their peers for well over 30 years. They get to feel what it’s like to be part of something bigger than themselves, to be part of a band. Some are beginners and some are advanced, but they all get a taste of the stage.
My dad provided a place that gave kids a sense of accomplishment, pride and ultimately raised their self esteem through the roof. It is a beautiful thing to see the hundreds of kids that have been part of Kids On Bluegrass, many of which have moved into the professional realm. There was no bigger supporter and fan of kids playing music. It gave my dad an endless cache of joy and pride in his life.”
Frank Sr. was always a safe space. Every time I saw him it was like everything was right with the world. He made everyone around him feel so valued and worthy. There is no one who was kinder, more generous, or welcoming than he was.
Frank Sr. was a mentor, inspiration, and friend to many. How lucky us California kids were to participate in his Kids on Bluegrass program. He had the unique ability to make every rising musician feel special. Frank Sr. taught us confidence, stage presence, and arranging songs with others. I remember the early mornings, and they always paid off! He will be missed by all; may we keep his legacy alive for many generations to come!
Frank Sr. was an integral part of the California bluegrass community. He was a warm and welcoming presence at the CBA festivals and a beloved mentor to children, many of whom ended up becoming professional musicians like myself. He will be dearly missed in our community and at musical gatherings all across the country.”
When Kevin wanted to propose, he knew that there were two men in my life he had to ask for blessing from: my Dad and Frank. From that first handshake when I was 11 years-old, Frank stepped into my life as a kind and supporting mentor, never missing an opportunity to build me up or set me straight, becoming like family. Frank helped me to come out of my shell, learn to step into responsibility, stand up for myself, and “sing from my gut.” No one has told me more times in my life that I am special and made me really believe it. I credit so much of who I am today and what I have accomplished to Frank’s teaching, and I know I am far from the only one.
Frank was one-of-a-kind. If a life’s significance can be measured by the positive impact left on others, then seeing the breadth of love people have for Frank is a great indication of his legacy. He was an encourager, a goofball, a teacher, an optimist, a patient fisherman, a great shot, a wonderfully proud father … and a lover of good people, food, and music.
Frank Sr. was one of the most important people for my passion and my career. He taught me how to perform and play with others, and was so good at inspiring the next generation of musicians. So many California bluegrass musicians owe their start to Frank and KOB, me being one of them. I’m so grateful for all that he’s done!