The first award was given in 1995 to Benji Flaming who is a talented and innovative young musician in the International Bluegrass Music Association and member of the band, Monroe Crossing. At age 5, Ryan Holiday was the youngest person to receive the award and is the youngest performer to ever play on the Grand Ole Opry Stage.
There has deliberately been little publicity about the award. The emphasis has been on encouraging a promising young banjo player who does not have a quality instrument by awarding them a top-of-the-line Deering banjo with the “Brian Friesen Banjo Award” and the dated engraved on it. Janet Deering and Orin Friesen combined their efforts to create the award and members of the musical community like Peter Wernick well known banjo teacher and member of the band “Hot Rize” and others are always quietly on the lookout for the promising young player who could greatly benefit from a premium Deering banjo to further their musical talent.