Kansas City, MO (February 24, 2022) – Folk Alliance International (FAI), the foremost global nonprofit for folk music, today announced its 2022 Artist in Residence (AIR) project; a commissioned piece by Canadian multi-instrumentalist Saskia Tomkins in partnership with The Mixed Museum in London, England.

For the project, Tomkins is composing an instrumental piece weaving Roma, traditional fiddle, and blues elements to accompany a narrated photo/video essay exploring her family’s search to find her grandfather, a segregated African-American G.I. forbidden to marry his white girlfriend and required to return to the US while his daughter (Saskia’s mother) was twice forced into an orphanage as part of England’s buried and rarely-discussed “Brown Babies/half-castes” era.

Tomkins is a master of violin/fiddle, viola, cello, and nyckelharpa. She is classically trained with a folk background, holds a B.A. (Hons) in Music (Jazz), and won the All Britain Champion Irish Fiddler Award. She has appeared with countless artists including The Chieftains and she is credited with developing the celtic elements of the Broadway hit “Come From Away.” She performs solo, with multiple ensembles, and is part of several orchestras.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, The Mixed Museum is a non-profit organization seeking to preserve and share the history of Black, Asian, and wider ethnic minority presence and racial mixing in Britain. The museum’s “Brown Babies” exhibition exploring stories of children born to Black G.I.s and white women in the Second World War was honored with a Museums Association 2021 Museums Change Lives award.

“This year’s pairing and focus intentionally relates to our ongoing efforts to examine race and equity issues in our global community through the lens of folk music” stated FAI’s executive director Aengus Finnan. The final version of the project will be presented live in Kansas City during FAI’s 34th annual conference, and will be released online as of May 20, 2022.

Created to foster cultural cross-pollination, diversify audiences, and nurture artistic growth, FAI’s Artist in Residence program pairs folk musicians with institutions and community organizations through innovative partnerships. Past projects have paired artists with UNESCO, the WWI Museum, Topeka Correctional Facility, KCPD, KC Ballet, and the International Rescue Committee. Last year’s edition was playfully and temporarily renamed Artists in (Their) residence, pairing 10 U.S. artists with 10 international peers in a pandemic co-write project.


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Saskia Tomkins Photo: Photo Credit: Steáfán Hannigan

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About Folk Alliance International

Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. Today FAI is the leading international voice for folk music with a network of more than 3,000 members: a worldwide community of artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.

From its U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, FAI produces the world’s largest conference for the folk music industry, the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), an Artist in Residence program, the Folk ExChange market development program, the

Ethno USA gathering (on behalf of JM International), community outreach, and a Finest Folk concert series.

FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, strives to ensure gender parity in all its programming, celebrates multiple languages and cultures, and actively welcomes participation from marginalized, disenfranchised, and underrepresented communities.

FAI defines folk broadly as “the music of the people” (reflective of any community they are from), and programs a diverse array of sub genres including, but not limited to, Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Global Roots, Hip-Hop, Old-Time, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Traditional, Zydeco, and various fusions.

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