Josh Goforth must have been born musical—he was already playing piano in church at the age of four—but it was an experience he had in the sixth grade that really lit the fuse of his precocious musical career. A performance at Goforth's middle school by Sheila Kay Adams caused him to start thinking about the musical heritage of his native Madison County. A couple of years later, he received his first guitar from one of his great-uncles, and began to learn the instrument under the tutelage of another great-uncle. The great-great-great-grandson of Madison County fiddler Asbury McDevitt was launched on a career in traditional music.
Over the next few years he learned to play at least ten different instruments by ear, learning from such local masters as Gordon and Arvil Freeman. Most famous for his fiddling, Goforth is a highly accomplished oldtime, bluegrass, and swing musician, but is remarkably versatile, able to pick up any of a wide variety of instruments and make a solid contribution in almost any kind of band. He was active in his high school's music program, and with Goforth as drum major, the Madison High School Marching Band won first place in each of the thirty-three competitions it entered. Among the pieces in its repertoire was a composition that Goforth wrote, based on a sacred harp hymn.