Announcement Launches City of Honor Program

Kansas City, Mo. (October 20, 2022) – Across the United States, Canada, and the world at large, there are exemplary cities, states, and regions where folk music is incubated and exported at the highest level. To celebrate these hotbeds of musical activity, Folk Alliance International (FAI) is proud to announce our first City of Honor for its 35th annual conference, in partnership with Music Export Memphis: Memphis, Tennessee.

Official Showcase Acts include:

Amy LaVere, whom NPR said “specializes in lyrics that are more barbed than her sweet soprano prepares you for”;

Talibah Safiya, who was named among the best things that Rolling Stone saw at AmericanaFest in 2018 and has been spotlighted by FADER Magazine;

“Must-listen-to” artist (Guitar Girl Magazine) and “really special” songwriter (producer Bruce Watson of Fat Possum) Bailey Bigger;

The Sensational Barnes Brothers, whom NPR said “lay down a funky Southern Saturday night vibe, only to wake up to church on Sunday morning”;

Yella P. of Memphissippi Sounds, a custom blend of North Mississippi hill country blues, Memphis blues and soul, rock, pop, and hip-hop;

Alice Hasen & The Blaze, called “one in a million” by and veteran of King Biscuit Blues Festival and multiple Juke Joint Festivals.

“As a historically major music city, I’m also thrilled that the city of Memphis is being honored,” says Valerie June, the 2023 conference keynote presenter. “Although it often takes a backseat in accolades as a city, it is the birthplace of my music. I believe it deserves a ton of recognition for the musical contributions that have inspired listeners across the globe. It’s such a treat to have the Folk Alliance celebrate Memphis at this year’s conference!”

There will also be a featured panel at the conference titled “I’ll Take You There: Music Making in Memphis Now.” Home to FAI from 2007 to 2013, Memphis was instrumental in launching many of America’s most treasured musical expressions — blues, rock & roll, soul, gospel, and folk. The city of honor is selected based on the current and historical musical output of the city. In launching this program, Memphis was a clear starting point.

While the city’s folk music history includes the cultural contributions of names like Gus Cannon, Furry Lewis, Sid Selvidge, Johnny Cash, the musical output of Memphis today is as vital as ever. From the budding music hub at Crosstown Concourse to Soulsville USA, where Memphis’ rich past and present sit side by side with the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Stax Music Academy, and Memphis Slim House, the city is alive with music.

Musicians travel from the world over to record in Memphis’ legendary studios — including Royal, Sun, Sam Phillips, and Ardent — while Memphis musicians travel the world telling the city’s story. Music Export Memphis funds hundreds of touring artists from the city each year.

“Folk Alliance International is proud to celebrate Memphis, TN, as the City of Honor at this year’s conference,” said Interim Executive Director Jennifer Roe, continuing, “The city is one of the world’s richest musical hubs historically, and contemporary musicians and professionals continue those traditions. In partnership with Music Export Memphis, we hope to share the export-ready talent from the city and display Memphis as a robust place to build a music career for musicians and entrepreneurs alike.”

“Music Export Memphis has been bringing artists from our city to showcase at Folk Alliance for years, and we’re thrilled to be able to shine an even brighter spotlight on them this year with the City of Honor distinction,” said Elizabeth Cawein, Executive Director of Music Export Memphis. “Our artists connect with so many opportunities through FAI, but we’re also looking forward to showing off what’s happening in the Memphis music ecosystem to the international audience that’ll be in Kansas City for the event. Memphis is an incredible place to be a music maker right now — we can’t wait to put it all on display in February.”

About Music Export Memphis:
Music Export Memphis creates opportunities for Memphis musicians to showcase their music outside the city, driving tourism, talent attraction and economic development, and giving artists a needed engine and platform to grow their careers and elevate Memphis’ profile as a contemporary music city. The organization was founded in 2016 and has provided more than half a million dollars in direct grants to Memphis artists since its inception. Its three core programs – Ambassadors, Experiences and The Export Bank – mobilize Memphis artists to represent our city on stages around the world. Learn more at

About Folk Alliance International:
Founded in 1989, and governed by a 21-member board of directors, Folk Alliance International (FAI) is the world’s largest membership organization for the folk music industry and community. Its mission is to serve, strengthen, and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation, and promotion.

FAI values diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, is committed to 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.

FAI produces the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs), an Artist in Residence (AIR) program, The Folk ExChange global market development program, the Ethno USA gathering, and the world’s largest annual folk music conference (drawing 3,332 delegates from 41 countries in January 2020).

Past Artist in Residence partnerships include UNESCO, the International Rescue Committee, the WWI Museum, Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Police Department, the Topeka Women’s Correctional Facility, UMKC’s Mathematics Dept., and the KC Art Institute.

Additionally, FAI provides advocacy, education, and professional development for over 4,000 members, and oversees an IRS Group Exemption program in support of over 50 US non-profits.

FAI Main Logo - Black