IFMA Nominees for Best of ’23 Include Album of the Year Nod to Molly Tuttle; Billy Strings, Nickel Creek, Madi Diaz; & Song of the Year to Joy Oladokun, Allison Russell, & Iris Dement

Kansas City, MO (January 17, 2024)Folk Alliance International (FAI), a 501(c)3 and the foremost global nonprofit for folk music, will present a convening of some of the music industry’s leading authorities and creators to address the ability of folk music to galvanize and catalyze movements to advance our world, at its 36th Annual Conference February 21-25, 2024 in Kansas City, MO. FAI has confirmed the International Folk Music Award (which are part of the conference) upcoming recipients and Best of 2023 nominees as well as the conference keynote presenters. In addition to the IFMAs and presentations, over 2,000 artist showcases will also take place under one roof.

Press photos of nominees, honorees, and conference speakers (including images of Allison Russell at the 2021 IFMAs).

Lifetime Achievement Awards will be granted to four-time GRAMMY Award-winner, thirteen-time GRAMMY nominee, and writer of a #1 Billboard Hot Country Song chart hit, Tracy Chapman; Chilean songwriter and activist Victor Jara; and McCabe’s Guitar Shop, which has been hosting concerts in Southern California for over 50 years. (The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented each year to honor the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures: one Living, one Legacy, and one Business/Academic.)

The People’s Voice Award is presented to an individual who unabashedly embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public careers. This year’s recipient is Alynda Segarra (of Hurray For the Riff Raff, which has released nine albums).

The following are the finalists for the 2023 Album, Artist, and Song of the Year:

Album of the Year
Amatssou – Tinariwen (Wedge Records)
City Of Gold – Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway (Nonesuch)
False Lankum – Lankum (Rough Trade)
Stand in the Joy – William Prince (Six Shooter Records)
Welcome to Whatever – Rainbow Girls (self-release)

Artist of the Year (sponsored by the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame)
Billy Strings
Digging Roots
Gaby Moreno
Nickel Creek
Madi Diaz

Song of the Year
“Changes” written by Joy Oladokun & Dan Wilson, performed by Joy Oladokun
“Keep It On A Burner” written and performed by Margo Cilker
“Tears Run Dry” written by Abraham Alexander, Ian Barter, Leo Stannard, performed by Abraham Alexander
“The Returner” written by Allison Russell, Drew Lindsay, & JT Nero, performed by Allison Russell
“Workin’ On A World” written and performed by Iris Dement

Among the Album of the Year nominees are 40+ year Tuareg group Tinariwen, whose album Amatssou was named the #1 Global Music album of the year by MOJO Magazine; 2023 GRAMMY Best New Artist nominee Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway; The Guardian’s #1 album of 2023, False Lankum, by the Dublin, Ireland band; William Prince, who has opened concerts for Neil Young and did an NPR Tiny Desk Concert in 2023; and Bodega, CA trio Rainbow Girls.

Artist of the Year nominees are Billy Strings, whose most recent album Me/And/Dad hit #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart, #1 on the Billboard Emerging Chart, and #37 on the Billboard Top 200; Turtle Island, Canada’s Digging Roots, an electrifying husband-and-wife duo of the Anishinabe Onkwehonwe nation and two-time JUNO Award winners; Guatemalan singer-song Gaby Moreno, who has earned four GRAMMY nominations and is based in Los Angeles; Madi Diaz, who has opened concerts for Harry Styles and about whom Rolling Stone said, “Get ready for the year of Madi”; and beloved trio Nickel Creek, consisting of Chris Thile, Sara Watkins, and Sean Watkins.

Song of the Year Nominations come for Joy Oladokun, who was profiled by CBS This Morning last year; “subtly spectacular” (Stereogum) Margo Cilker; son of Nigerian immigrants in Greece then America, Abraham Alexander, subject of an interview on NPR All Things Considered last year; the legendary Iris Dement; and longtime collaborators JT Nero and 2022 IFMA Artist of the Year Allison Russell with Drew Lindsy.

(Final nominees for Album, Artist, and Song of the Year are compiled from US, Canadian, and international “best of” annual industry and media lists in addition to the year-end Folk DJ Charts. Award winners are determined by FAI’s voting membership. Winners will be announced at the International Folk Music Awards on February 21, 2024.)

The IFMA house band will be Virginia’s The Steel Wheels, founders of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival.

All conference attendees will have access to attend the IFMAs.

For The Rising Tide Award (sponsored by Levitt Foundation), FAI will tap Guatemalan songwriter, vocalist, and activist in defense of women’s and indigenous people’s rights, Sara Curruchich, who is the first musician to use Kaqchikel language of her people in popular music for an international audience. The Rising Tide Award was launched in 2021 to celebrate a new generation (under 30) artist who inspires others by embodying the values and ideals of the folk community through their creative work, community role, and public voice.

FAI has also announced the recipient of the Clearwater Award, Spirit of Folk Awards, and inductees to the Folk Radio Hall of Fame. The Clearwater Award is presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable event production and this year will go to LEAF Global Arts Festival. The Spirit of Folk Awards will go to Lead Belly Estate’s Terika Dean; artist from the Métis Nation of Ontario, Amanda Rheaume; Jim Fleming, founder of the booking agency Fleming Artists; and FAI’s own Jerod Rivers, who has served in the organization for eleven years in a number of roles, presently as Conference Director. The Spirit of Folk Awards are presented to honor and celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership.

Newly minted Folk Radio Hall of Famers include Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey; forty-plus year veteran Jan Vanderhorst; Mountain Stage founder Larry Groce; Bob Sherman, whose “Woody’s Children” show graced NYC’s airwaves for nearly 55 years; and Celtic music ambassador Brian O’Donovan. The Folk Radio Hall of Fame was established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field.

In addition, FAI has confirmed keynote presenters at its 2024 annual conference:
* Five-time GRAMMY Award-winner Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary;
* Two-time GRAMMY Award-winner and Latin Grammy nominee, Lucy Kalantari;
* and President and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), David Israelite.

FAI will present three full days of thought leadership, interactive discussion, and best practices related to the alchemic power and transformative force of music to create meaningful change in the world, connecting artists with worldwide listenership. Among Folk Alliance International Conference firsts this year are a Wellness Summit, and a Legal Summit. The Black American Music Summit (BAMS) and a summit with partner International Indigenous Music Summit is also set.

Other confirmed speakers include:

* Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Tom Paxton
* Two-time Grammy Award nominee, Country Music Association Award winner, and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, Beth Nielsen Chapman
* Anna Canoni, granddaughter of Woody Guthrie and Vice President, Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
* Multi-Juno Award nominee, Shakura S’Adia
* Tony Award Winner John Gallagher, Jr.
* Richard James Burgess, President & CEO, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)
* Stephen Parker, Executive Director, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and named to Billboard Magazine 40 Under 40 in 2023
* Brandi Waller Pace, Founder/Executive Director, Decolonizing the Music Room
* Entertainment attorney powerhouses Peter Strand, Matthew Wilson, Brian Rosenblatt, and Janine Small
* Clinical Associate Professor at New York University Judy Tint
* Ashley Shabankareh, Director of Operations and Programs, Trombone Shorty Foundation
* Elizabeth Stookey Sunde, Founder and Executive Director, Music to Life
* Marah Czap, of Yep Roc Records
* The Tennessean’s Marcus K. Dowling
* Michelle Solomon of Pandora
* Songwriter Livingston Taylor
* Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment, Gerald Torres

For complete conference programming, click here.

The live, in-person presentations will take place during the conference February 21-25, 2024 at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri.

Past FAI keynote speakers have included Valerie June, Margaret Atwood, Mavis Staples, Rhiannon Giddens, Judy Collins, Al Gore, Billy Bragg, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Graham Nash, Ani DiFranco, and more.

The conference’s theme in 2024 is Alchemy: A Transformative Force, showcasing the power of music to provide the change needed in the world. Previously announced are the over 150 Official Showcase artists who will perform at the conference.

Spotify’s official playlist of Official Showcase artists has posted.

Among the artists announced to be performing Official Showcases are:

* NPR Music‘s Ann Powers interviews Alynda Segarra (Hurray For The Riff Raff);
* Bodega, CA’s Rainbow Girls;
* JUNO Award nominee and multiple Maple Blues Award winner Matt Andersen;
* Arkansas’ Willi Carlisle, who performed at Newport Folk Fest and who “speaks his truth…reminiscent of folk singers like Woody Guthrie” (NPR Music);
* Jolie Holland, whose upcoming album has been previewed in Stereogum and Pitchfork and about whom NPR Music said, “immediately arresting voice… that lands halfway between dusty rural Americana and grimy New York art-rock”;
* Powerhouse vocalist, intrepid songwriter, and drag queen Flamy Grant, winner of 2023 Kerrville New Folk Competition;
* Canadian-Grenadian “star in the making” (Folk Alley) Kaia Kater, who will have a new album in Spring, 2024 on Free Dirt Records;
* Olive Klug, who found success on TikTok and whose songs reflect their experience with queer identity and the struggle to establish adulthood in unprecedented times;
* Tony Award winner John Gallagher Jr., star of Broadway’s American Idiot, Spring Awakening, and the upcoming Avett Brothers musical Swept Away;
* 2022 International Folk Music Award Song of the Year winner Crys Matthews;
* Memphis’ Amy LaVere, whom NPR said “specializes in lyrics that are more barbed than her sweet soprano prepares you for”;
* The Steel Wheels, of whom NPR said, “Smearing the boundaries separating blues, bluegrass and gospel music, The Steel Wheels’ sound has earned the band multiple awards and a near-permanent place atop independent music and Americana charts”;
* the “magic” (New York Times) Livingston Taylor, writer of four Billboard Top Forty hits and subject of a 2019 PBS special;
* IBMA Momentum Vocalist Award winner AJ Lee & Blue Summit
* Hit songwriter Bruce Sudano, who wrote the GRAMMY-nominated track “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good to Be True)” as well as songs for Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and his late wife, the GRAMMY Award-winning singer Donna Summer;
* Three-time JUNO Award Winner, Connie Kaldor;
* Austin’s Gina Chavez, about whom NPR said “if you don’t know her already, I dare you to walk away and not become a fan”;
* New Orleans’ Handmade Moments, who incorporate alto sax, bass clarinet, sousaphone, mandolin, guitar and beatboxing and were subjects of the documentary Busking, which screened at dozens of film festivals around the world;
* Justin Adams, frequent Robert Plant collaborator, & Mauro Durante;
* English singer John Smith, International Folk Music Award-nominee with over 100 million Spotify streams of his music;
* Jorge Glem, Venezuelan virtuoso cuatro player, and Sam Reider Present Brooklyn-Cumaná;
* Memphissippi Sounds, a blend of North Mississippi hill country blues, Memphis blues and soul, rock, and hip-hop featuring Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of blues legend Junior Kimbrough;
* Three-time Scottish Traditional Music Awards Live Act of the Year winners Skerryvore;

Major Sponsors and Funders
Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame
TRO Essex Music Group
Grassy Hill Entertainment
Kari Estrin Management, Consulting and Radio Promotion
Music Export Memphis
With public support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency and the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of Kansas City, Missouri, the Kemper Family Foundations, and Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation

More About The Theme
Folk Alliance International’s 2024 Conference theme Alchemy: A Transformative Force explores how changes in culture alter the ways we make and share music, which, in turn, transforms lives and changes the world. The power of alchemy can manifest, for example, when an artist processes their individual pain into words and vibrations that connect and comfort listeners. The alchemy theme invites us to lean into processes of discovery and experimentation and to think about how we nurture the sparks of creativity that light fires of change. The conference will explore the idea of alchemy and transformation as it relates to:

* the power and transformative force of the creative process, and its cultural influence, to alter the world and effectuate meaningful change
* new frontiers in technology to provide a path to transformation
* resilience and innovation in business
* the important chemistry between artist and audience

More About the Conference
Official Showcases feature jury-selected, tour-ready musicians representing diverse cultures, languages, and sounds. These thirty-minute sets are performed on full production stages.

Private Showcases turn hotel rooms into listening rooms. These performances are more intimate, often without any amplification, and turn each floor of the hotel into its own festival.

The conference and showcase performances will be held at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

The Folk Alliance International conference also offers various networking and mentoring opportunities, including Peer Sessions (for agents, labels, festivals, and artists), speed meetings, artist mentorship meetings, summits, and Affinity Group sessions for communities including BIPOC, LGBTQ2IA+, Women, Folks 55+, Folks with Disabilities, and more.

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 in partnership with Belgium-based organization JM International, and the world’s largest annual folk music conference and showcase performances drawing over 3,000 delegates from 40+ countries.

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., the Kansas City Art Institute, and Friends of the Kaw River.

Additionally, FAI provides information, advocacy, education, and professional development for over 19,000 in its community and oversees an IRS Group Exemption program in support of over 50 US non-profits.

About Noel Paul Stookey
Noel Paul Stookey has been contributing to both the musical and ethical landscape of this country and the world for decades—both as the “Paul” of the legendary Peter, Paul and Mary and as an independent musician who passionately believes in bringing the spiritual into the practice of daily life.

Acknowledging his history and the meaningful association with Peter and Mary—the trio perhaps best known for its blend of modern folk music and social activism, rallying support for safe energy, peace and civil rights at some of the most iconic events in our history, including the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King—Noel’s songwriting and performances continue to explore a wide range of issues born out of the important work of that folk era.

Over $2 million, earned from his now-classic “Wedding Song,” has been used to fund the work of many faith-based and socially responsible organizations including Music to Life, created by Noel and his daughter, Liz Stookey Sunde, as a nonprofit – connecting socially conscious musicians with the training, resources and mentorship needed to actuate their bold visions for community change.

Noel’s keynote is offered as both an encouragement and recognition of folk music’s role in contemporary society. He will touch upon the importance of compassionately integrating personal angst and social concerns. He still believes ‘music of the people’ is a transformative force with a continuing capacity to galvanize and catalyze movements, foster thought and inspire truthful discussion.

About Lucy Kalantari
Lucy Kalantari is a two-time GRAMMY Award winning artist, composer and producer passionate about creating children’s media that brings joy, inspires community and highlights the power of resilience. She’s the frontwoman and bandleader for Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats, making bilingual, jazz age-inspired music for families. Her album All the Sounds, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Children’s Album, bringing joy and pride to the Dominican Republic, where she grew up. In 2020, Kalantari produced, recorded and arranged the GRAMMY® Award winning album All the Ladies, by Joanie Leeds, an impactful collection of songs to empower young girls and shape future minds of the world. In her EP, What Kind of World?, the title track was named Biggest Songs of 2021 by SiriusXM Kids Place Live. And the track “Round and Round” earned her 3rd International Songwriting Competition win, in 1st place for Best Children’s Song.

Born to Latin American parents (Dominican & Puerto Rican), she writes swingin’ tunes both in English and in Spanish. Kalantari’s songs have been featured on Universal Kids Snug’s House and can often be found topping the charts on SiriusXM Kids Place Live and on rotation on family programs around the country.

As a full-time music creator and a mother to a 10 year-old musician, she still makes time to mentor, teaching high school and college students to follow the sounds in their hearts and pursue their passion. She’s a soundBoard mentor for We Are Moving the Needle, a nonprofit organization supporting all women recording industry professionals, audio engineers and producers.

About David M. Israelite
David M. Israelite is President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), a position he has held since February 2005. Israelite is responsible for overseeing all aspects of NMPA’s operations, from legal strategy and implementation to government affairs and advocacy. His leadership has produced revolutionary successes on behalf of publishers including the largest CRB rate increase in history, groundbreaking industry collaboration in royalty rate agreements, landmark settlements and model licenses with streaming platforms, and ultimately raising the profile of the publishing community. Additionally, Israelite was instrumental in guiding the effort to modernize copyright laws culminating in the Music Modernization Act (MMA) and the subsequent creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).

He has been named to Billboard’s Power 100 multiple times and serves on the boards of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Country Music Association and Special Olympics DC. He also serves as the President of the NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters) which supports songwriters through funding scholarships and direct services, among other assistance.

About The Steel Wheels
Virginia-based folk-rock band The Steel Wheels have spent almost twenty years writing, recording, and touring, all the while constantly honing their evolving brand of American roots music. Additionally they are the founders and hosts of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival, a beloved staple of the Shenandoah Valley. Through the years, The Steel Wheels have drawn on both traditional form and modern sounds to capture the beauty in all of life’s varied trials and triumphs. Their new album, Sideways, which releases on February 9, 2024 via Big Ring Records, is a meditation on resilience and survival. Trent Wagler, the band’s lead singer and primary songwriter, penned many of the songs in response to loss, and the uncertainty that comes with facing what we can’t control.

About Tracy Chapman
Four-time Grammy Award winner and thirteen-time nominee, Tracy Chapman first commanded the world’s attention with “Fast Car,” a stunning 1988 single that felt both intensely personal and universal. As listeners discovered her self-titled album that same year, Chapman emerged as one of the most important musical voices of her generation. Songs like “Baby, Can I Hold You” and “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” showed different facets of her writing, as did her 1995 Billboard Hot #3 smash, “Give Me One Reason.”

Chapman grew up in a black working-class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned a scholarship to attend a boarding school in Connecticut then enrolled in Tufts University. She performed acoustic sets in Boston while still in college; at the age of 24, she released Tracy Chapman, the first of her eight studio albums. “Fast Car” found a new audience when Luke Combs’ rendition reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2023.

About Victor Jara
Victor Jara wrote beautiful and powerful songs that reflected the lives of everyday Chilean citizens in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a politically turbulent time in that country’s history. With his spellbinding guitar and a warm, confiding voice, Jara sang eloquently about common struggles and social unrest. Due to his support of Chilean president Salvador Allende and the left-wing Popular Unity party, Jara was beaten and killed in 1973 during a right-wing coup in Santiago.

Born into poverty in 1932, Jara found his calling on the stage after time spent in seminary and military service. He enrolled in the theater department at the University of Chile and met his future wife, Joan. In 1957, he befriended Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra, whose mission was to revitalize and preserve traditional Chilean folk music. Both musicians are considered key figures in what became known as the “Nueva Canción” (New Song) movement.

About McCabe’s Guitar Shop
McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California, has been a landmark for acoustic, jazz, and world music since 1958. Founded by furniture maker Gerald McCabe, the store initially built its clientele among the area’s folk and roots performers who could buy instruments, books and records, or have their guitar repaired. Through instructional classes, McCabe’s has introduced generations of aspiring musicians to the pleasure of playing acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, and numerous other instruments.

The store moved down the street from its original location in 1964. By the end of the decade, McCabe’s started booking intimate concerts inside the store. Elizabeth Cotten and Jackson Browne were among the first to perform shows there, with Bill Monroe, John Fahey, Ralph Stanley, Townes Van Zandt, Memphis Slim, Doc Watson, John Lee Hooker, Linda Ronstadt soon to follow. The small room soon attracted incredible talent eager to play for quiet, attentive audiences. The independent, family-owned McCabe’s Guitar Shop moved to its current location in 1972 and remains a cornerstone of the Southern California music community. Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Justin Townes Earle, Jeff Tweedy, The Jayhawks, Fiona Apple, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Kathleen Edwards, KT Tunstall, Lucinda Williams, Monsters of Folk, PJ Harvey, Roseanne Cash, R.E.M., Vince Gill, Tom Waits, and Taj Mahal have all performed at McCabe’s.

About Alynda Segarra
After running away from home in the Bronx at 17, Alynda Segarra founded two bands in New Orleans some 15 years ago, Dead Man’s Orchestra and Hurray For the Riff Raff, whose ninth album, The Past is Still Alive, releases this week on Nonesuch Records. In February 2014, Hurray for the Riff Raff had their ATO Records debut with Small Town Heroes. The album featured “The Body Electric,” a song that NPR’s Ann Powers called “The Political Song of the Year” in 2014, saying the record “sweeps across eras and genres with grace and grit.” From there, Segarra reconnected with her Puerto Rican heritage on Hurray for the Riff Raff’s 2017 album, The Navigator. After that, Alynda began delivering musical instruments and inspiration to students in Puerto Rico. HFRR’s 2022 Nonesuch debut, Life on Earth, delves into survival and what that means for both individuals and society. They remain on an essential exploration of the best role of the activist artist who can use an outsider perspective to inspire.

About Sara Curruchich
Since emerging in 2012, Guatemalan songwriter and vocalist Sara Curruchich has sung in both Spanish and the Kaqchikel language of her people, the first musician to use the latter in popular music for an international audience. Her music is thus born from her people’s collective and individual feelings, history, memory, culture, languages, and struggles, as well as her own, personal stance as an artist. Her 2015 song “Ch’uti’xtän” first gained her fame within her country. Since then, she has released two albums and multiple singles. Curruchich is also an activist in defense of women’s and indigenous people’s rights, for which, she won the MIAW Transformer Award at the 2021 MTV Millennial Awards, served as an ambassador for the HeForShe movement with UN Women Guatemala, and was selected for the Ford Fellowship Foundation Global Fellowship Program. Sara’s voice and message of love, awareness, respect, and defense of life in all its forms, have led many people to regard her as a beacon of light and hope.

About LEAF Global Arts Festival
LEAF, the Lake Eden Arts Festival, has created a remarkable vision for a music festival that forms the foundation for a non-profit organization working on a global basis from its western North Carolina location. Since 1995, LEAF Global Arts has worked to connect cultures and create community through music, arts education and experiences, to cultivate curiosity, preserve cultures and promote global understanding. LEAF prioritizes sustainability with filtered water refill stations, extensive composting, recycling, and repurposing as much as material as possible (such as tent frames). All vendors use compostable cups, plates, and utensils. They also installed grid power to eliminate generators, except as emergency backups. The campus now conserves water via lower-flow filters and saves energy via newly installed, efficient light bulbs and fixtures.

Spring and fall festivals on the historic site of Black Mountain College, where founder Jennifer Pickering grew up, celebrate the roots and branches of the music and dance of American traditional music and the music of the African diaspora. LEAF works year-round, establishing LEAF Global Headquarters as a cultural center in Asheville’s historic Club Del Cardo, presenting field trips for students from preschool through high school, Schools and Streets Camps through the summer, and during winter break for elementary students, and engaging in cultural preservation, expeditions, and global arts education, all based in love and gratitude.

About Jerod Rivers
A musician, engineer, and producer (with a background in urban planning and architectural engineering, and a love for outdoor adventuring), Jerod has devoted almost eleven years of service to Folk Alliance International. He was the first local hire when FAI relocated to Kansas City, serving initially as the Membership Manager, later taking on systems and technology responsibilities as operations evolved, and ultimately landing as Conference Director. He has administered the board election process for years, been a steadfast support for the regional elections, and throughout it all has focused on community relations: working to assist members, volunteers, and industry alike.

About Terika Dean
Terika Dean, great-great niece of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Blues Hall of Famer Lead Belly, chairs the Blues Foundation, is a board member for the Lead Belly Foundation, and serves as the Licensing Manager for the Lead Belly Estate. Dean advocates passionately for the preservation and celebration of the blues while strengthening the connections among the folk, blues, and Americana communities. In 2012, she left the health care field to work full time for the Lead Belly Estate, where Dean develops projects that continue to expand Lead Belly’s cultural legacy using his name, image, and likeness.

About Amanda Rheaume
Amanda Rheaume, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario and an artist that has self-managed her music career for nearly 20 years, co-founded Ishkode Records and serves as Operations Director of the International Indigenous Music Summit. As an artist, with five albums and four EPs, she has explored her Métis roots that were not stressed in her childhood. Her 2013 album based in family stories, Keep A Fire, earned a Juno nomination and won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year. Amanda is a proud member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

About Jim Fleming
Forty-five years ago, Jim Fleming founded the agency that has been known as Fleming Artists for more than a quarter century. A partnership with David Tamulevich during the 1980s moved the agency from theatre to folk music and led to representation of such artists as Ani DiFranco, Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, and Jeff Daniels. Jim was part of a cohort of the leading folk agents whose support proved essential to the early years of Folk Alliance bringing artists and presenters into the fold. Fleming Artists has remained committed to advancing the careers of artists who work for a better world and developing positive partnerships among presenters, artists, and agents.

About Tinariwen
Tinariwen, the pioneering, Grammy-winning Tuareg collective, continues along an electric trail of music and offers another captivating glimpse into Amatssou. For decades, Tinariwen have remained ambassadors for the Tuareg people, a way of life in tune with the natural world, which is under threat as never before. Throughout Amatssou — the legendary collective’s ninth studio album — Tinariwen set out to explore the shared sensibilities between their trademark desert blues and the vibrant country music of rural America. Recorded in Djanet, an oasis in the desert of southern Algeria located in Tassili N’Ajjer National Park, with additional production on two tracks by Daniel Lanois (Brian Eno, U2, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson), Amatssou finds Tinariwen’s signature snaking guitar lines and hypnotic grooves seamlessly co-existing alongside banjos, fiddles and pedal steel.

About Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway
GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Molly Tuttle’s City of Gold follows Tuttle’s acclaimed 2022 record, Crooked Tree, which won Best Bluegrass Album at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards and led NPR Music to call her, “a female flat picker extraordinaire with agility, speed and elegance who distinctively brings American roots music into the spotlight,” adding that the album “marries the improvisatory solos of traditional bluegrass with singer-songwriter sophistication.”

Produced by Tuttle and Jerry Douglas and recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, City of Gold was inspired by Tuttle’s constant touring with Golden Highway these past few years, during which they have grown together as musicians and performers, cohering as a band. These 13 tracks—mostly written by Tuttle and Ketch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show)—capture the electric energy of band’s live shows by highlighting each members’ musical strengths. In addition to Tuttle and Secor, Mason Via also co-wrote “Down Home Dispensary,” while Melody Walker and Shelby Means co-wrote “Next Rodeo.”

American Songwriter called her “one of the world’s best guitar players.”

About Lankum
Made up of brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Cormac MacDiarmada and Radie Peat, Lankum have gained worldwide acclaim for their unique spin on Irish music and captivating, often euphoric live performances. Their third album The Livelong Day paved the way for critical and commercial success, earning them that year’s RTE Choice Music Prize (the Irish equivalent of the Album of the Year Grammy) and the #8 spot on NPR Music’s Best Albums of the Year list. Drawing on traditional folk songs, Lankum put their own dark, distinctive mark onto each, leaning into heavy drones and sonic distortion that imparts new intensity and beauty into each track. Their fourth album False Lankum, released in April 2023, sees the band cement their breakout from the folk genre, creating bold, contemporary music that may be fashioned from traditional elements but is firmly new, sitting comfortably alongside Rough Trade labelmates like black midi and Gilla Band.
NPR Music’s Bob Boilen said, “Artists such as Portishead and Brian Eno come to mind. An album of the year for me.” MOJO Magazine opined, “False Lankum may be folk music’s OK Computer.”

About William Prince
William Prince’s music has resonated with so many, appearing everywhere from NPR’s Tiny Desk to the hit television series Yellowstone, and a listen to any of his records quickly reveals why. Prince’s debut Earthly Days won a JUNO Award, and he followed that up with a pair of albums in 2020. The first of those, Reliever “captures what makes William Prince such a beautiful presence” (NPR Music) and earned him his US television debut performance on CBS Saturday Morning. Prince followed that up with Gospel First Nation, which Rolling Stone called “fantastic” and was named as one of NPR Music’s favorite releases of 2020. On the back of these two 2020 releases, Prince amassed 11 awards, including Folk Alliance International Artist Of The Year for 2021 and a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album Of The Year for Reliever.

In his home country of Canada, Prince is a star: He sold-out his national theater tour (including Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall), opened for Neil Young, and collaborated with Buffy Sainte-Marie as part of a CBC celebration of her profound musical legacy. Internationally, Prince’s profile continues to grow. His 2022 included a bevy of festival performances— including New Orleans Jazz Festival, BottleRocks Napa Valley, and AmericanaFest in Nashville — as well as extensive tours across the US, Europe, and the UK, on his own and with artists like Yola and Katie Pruitt. Paste said, “William Prince’s voice stopped me in my tracks.”

About Rainbow Girls
Rainbow Girls met in college in Southern California and have been honing their songwriting and harmonies ever since. They’ve amassed a huge community of cult followers over the last decade who have become so invested in the band, that they have fully funded Rainbow Girls’ newest record Welcome to Whatever.

About Billy Strings
One of the top emerging artists across all genres of music, Billy Strings has made his most ambitious album to date with Renewal, a 16-song collection that effortlessly positions him as a singular talent—one who reveres the history of the acoustic music that inspired him, while pushing it forward into new spaces and audiences through his incredible live shows.

Serving as a reflection of Strings’ diverse musical influences, Renewal reaches well beyond bluegrass with elements of heavy metal, jam bands, psychedelic music and classic rock—even though it’s still primarily an acoustic record. The album follows his Grammy Award-winning project, Home, as well as industry recognition ranging from Pollstar’s Breakthrough Artist of the Pandemic to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year and New Artist of the Year.

“I’ve learned, you’ve just got to let the song do its thing,” shares Strings. “So that’s what I try to do—write songs and let them come out however they do.”

About Digging Roots
Digging Roots breathe life into songs from their land, Turtle Island, to raise their voices in solidarity with a global chorus of Indigenous artists, activists and change-makers.

For over a decade, two-time JUNO Award winners Digging Roots have traveled the world with a joyful message of resistance, celebrating Anishinaabe and Onkwehón:we traditions of round dance and interconnectedness. As Roots Music Canada says, the band is “…badass, empowering and hopeful all at the same time.”

Digging Roots takes you on a journey through tall grass, sweet waters and unconditional love in a joyous and powerful celebration on their fourth album Zhawenim (2022). Led by the electrifying current of husband-and-wife team, ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta, the 6-piece band responds to a majestic and spiritual call from ShoShona’s earthy vocals and Raven’s exhilarating guitar mastery through a fusion of blues, soul and rock & roll. For longtime fans or new audiences, their constantly evolving live show opens a space, wherever they may be in the world, for healing, compassion, unconditional love and Baamaadziwin (the good life). Constantly interweaving between drum culture and guitar dialects, Raven and ShoShona were raised in cultural families that have continued to resist oppression and colonialism.

About Gaby Moreno
Since moving to Los Angeles from her native Guatemala, singer-songwriter-producer Gaby Moreno has released eight albums and earned 4 GRAMMY nominations for her albums “Illusion” (Best Latin Pop Album, 2017) , “Alegoría” (Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album, 2022), “X Mí (Vol. 1)” (Best Latin Pop Album – 2023) and for producing legendary cuban singer Omara Portuondo’s album “Vida” (Best Latin Tropical Album – 2023). She is also a 5 time nominee and winner of a Latin GRAMMY for “Best New Artist” (2013).

Over her career, Moreno has shared the international stage with music luminaries such as Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Hugh Laurie and The Copper Bottom Band, Punch Brothers, Chris Thile, Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek, Buena Vista Social Club, Calexico, David Gray, Los Lobos, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, Van Dyke Parks and many more. She has had the honor of performing several times at Lincoln Center in NYC and The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Gaby co-wrote the theme song for the multiple award-winning TV series Parks and Recreation (NBC). She sings the theme song and voices a character on the multiple Emmy Award-winning Disney children’s TV series, “Elena of Avalor,” which features Disney’s first Latina princess.

About Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek is mandolinist Chris Thile, violinist Sara Watkins and guitarist Sean Watkins. Together a sum of more than their staggering parts, the trio revolutionized bluegrass and folk in the early 2000s and ushered in a new era of what we now recognize as Americana music. After a nine year absence, the Platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning trio are set to return in 2023 with the highly-anticipated album, Celebrants — a bounty of 18 disparate but loosely connected songs written collectively during a creative retreat in Santa Barbara in early 2021. The result is perhaps the most audacious yet accessible release of the Grammy-winning trio’s 34-year career. The entire enterprise is, naturally, shot through with the trio’s virtuosic picking and shiver-inducing harmonies. The lyrics — addressing love, friendship, time, and the universal travails of travel — combine the poetic and plain-spoken, hitting a sweet spot of ethereal and relatable as bridges are built, crossed, burned, and rebuilt. In celebration of the release, the trio will return to the road including three sold-out shows at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with more dates to be announced soon.

About Madi Diaz
With Weird Faith, Madi Diaz, who “makes even the most immovable feelings open up with just a little time and space” (Pitchfork), comes up against a problem that has dogged songwriters since time immemorial: how do you write about romance, or love, without making it sentimental or fake? For Diaz, the answer was to explore how anxiety-inducing — if not downright humiliating — falling in love can be. Weird Faith answers these questions bluntly, and Diaz says the record “chronicles a new relationship, but also a new relationship to myself.”

Diaz has been making records and writing songs professionally since the late 2000s, but it wasn’t until she released History Of A Feeling, hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of 2021’s best kept secrets,” that she felt the glare of wider notoriety. It wasn’t her debut album, but it certainly felt like it. She made her daytime and late night television debuts, embarked on her first solo tour since 2014, supported Waxahatchee and Angel Olsen on tour, and collaborated with them on record. Harry Styles handpicked Diaz to open for him in arenas and stadiums in North America, and was so taken by her captivating live show, he asked her to be a member of his touring band, to sing alongside him all over Europe and the UK, as well as continuing to open the show in various cities. Time on the road renewed Diaz’s excitement about her own project and her own story. After three months on the road touring internationally, Diaz is back in Nashville, perched on the precipice of her moment with Weird Faith.

About Joy Oladokun
Capturing the human experience has become Joy’s forte. After grinding it out for years, she reached critical mass with her 2021 major label debut, in defense of my own happiness. It graced countless year-end lists and led Vanity Fair to declare, “Her name is both prescient and redundant. She oozes energy that shifts a room’s center of gravity and makes you happy for it. It is charisma and she has it in spades. It’s the way she approaches her craft too.” Along the way, she’s delivered unforgettable performances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, PBS’s Austin City Limits and NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert and more, and captivated festival goers at Bonnaroo, Hangout, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival and Ohana Festival. Not to mention, she’s also appeared on HULU’s Your Attention Please: The Concert and landed prominent syncs on CSI: Vegas, This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, And Just Like That and Station 19, to name a few. Plus, she has joined forces with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Lucie Silvas, Noah Kahan and Jason Isbell for collaborations. Most recently, she played “Sunday” and “Jordan” at the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony in front of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the South Lawn of the White House.

Throughout 2022, she wrote and recorded what would become Proof of Life with producers Mike Elizondo, Ian Fitchuk, and Dan Wilson with Joy co-producing.

About Margo Cilker
Margo Cilker’s sophomore album, Valley of Heart’s Delight, refers to a place she can’t return: California’s Santa Clara Valley, as it was known before the orchards were paved over and became more famous for Silicon than apricots. Margo is the fifth generation of Cilker’s born there, and in this 11-song collection, family and nature intertwine as guiding motifs, at once precious and endangered, beautiful and exhausting. The trees here are family trees, or they’re apricot trees, but suburban sprawl isn’t looking good for either. Cilker moved from California to the Pacific Northwest in her mid-twenties and wrote much of Valley of Heart’s Delight while living in Enterprise, Oregon, a small town near the Snake River and powered by the river’s massive, publicly-funded hydroelectric dams. The dams (part of the same system Woody Guthrie was hired to write about) provide clean electricity to much of the western US but make it extraordinarily difficult for anadromous fish (such as Steelhead Trout) to return from the ocean and spawn in their native streams. Valley Of Heart’s Delight feeds off of this tension – how we live in and off of nature, how we live within and without family, and why we return to the places we were born.

Cilker and producer Sera Cahoone’s work on her critically acclaimed Pohorylle debut earned its accolades for lyric-focused production and understated musicianship. The pair maintain this approach on Valley of Heart’s Delight, bringing back the same crew to the same studio in Vancouver, Washington: Cahoone (Sub Pop, Carissa’s Weird, Band Of Horses) drums and produces, John Morgan Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson) engineers, Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists) provides piano, organ, and accordion, Rebecca Young (Lindsey Fuller) plays bass, Kelly Pratt (Beirut) on horns, and of course, sister Sarah Cilker contributes harmonies. Those in need of more twang will appreciate the addition of Paul Brainard’s (M. Ward, Richmond Fontaine) pedal steel and telecaster work, Annie Staninec’s (Mary Gauthier) fiddle, and the mandolin and high lonesome harmony of Portland country standard-bearer Caleb Klauder. Cilker also branched out in her song-collecting, reeling in a cover (“Steelhead Trout”) by Idaho native Ben Walden, ostensibly because of artistic and thematic reasons, but also because, in Cilker’s words, “it’s a damn good song and I wanted to record it.” Walden also sings and plays harmonica on the track.

About Abraham Alexander
When Abraham Alexander unspools his extraordinary life story, it becomes clear that he should always trust his instincts. Each time he has, something unknowable but amazing has happened for him.

Born in Greece, where he spent the early part of his life with the Acropolis as his playground, Abraham was transplanted to Texas in the early 2000s at 11 years old to escape the ever present racial tension of his birthplace. Adopted in Texas after losing his mother in a car accident with a drunk driver, Abraham became a sports nut who excelled on the pitch and had first set his sights on a career in soccer. A torn ACL sidelined those ambitions but opened the door to a new path. A friend handed him a guitar during this downtime, and, without warning, his soul was unlocked.

Songs he did not know that he had in him poured out. A series of increasingly incredible chance meetings — including a life-changing encounter with Leon Bridges — led him to nurture this newfound musical voraciousness. Those roads have converged on his new album Sea/Sons, out now on Dualtone Records.

From open mics in Fort Worth, TX to recent stints on the road opening for Leon Bridges, The Lumineers, and Mavis Staples — an instructive trinity for his sound — Alexander is ready for the headlining spotlight and to articulate what many of us are feeling with Sea/Sons.

About Allison Russell
Since the release of her first solo album two years ago, the self-taught singer, songwriter, poet, activist, and multi-instrumentalist, Allison Russell has redefined what artistry means in the 21st century. Outside Child, her often devastating, deeply moving, cathartic celebration of survivor’s joy, has become one of the most acclaimed albums of the past 10 years (various honors include three GRAMMY Award nominations, the Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, the 2022 Americana Music Association’s Album of the Year Award, two International Folk Music Awards, three Canadian Folk Music Awards, and four UK Americana Music Awards). Further still, Allison has consistently used her newfound platform to elevate, educate and inspire; curating the history making Once And Future Sounds: Roots and Revolution set for the Newport Folk Festival in 2021 and mobilizing this year’s triumphant Love Rising All-Star benefit concert in support of LGBTQIA+ causes in Nashville, are just two of the many examples where she’s raised her voice with power and purpose.

Now comes the second chapter in her story, The Returner, a body-shaking, mind-expanding, soulful expression of Black liberation, Black love, of Black self-respect. Written and co-produced by Allison along with Dim Star (her partner JT Nero and his brother Drew Lindsay), The Returner was recorded over Solstice week in December 2022 at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles, and features an astounding all-female musical collective Allison dubbed The Rainbow Coalition: Allison Russell (lead vocals, harmony vocals, banjo, clarinet)

About Iris Dement
On her transcendent new record, Workin’ On A World, Iris DeMent faces the modern world — as it is right now — with its climate catastrophe, pandemic illness, and epidemic of violence and social injustice — and not only asks us how we can keep working towards a better world, but implores us to love each other, despite our very different ways of seeing. Her songs are her way of healing our broken inner and outer spaces.

With an inimitable voice as John Prine described, “like you’ve heard, but not really,” and unforgettable melodies rooted in hymns, gospel, and old country music, she’s simply one of the finest singer-songwriters in America as well as one of our fiercest advocates for human rights. Her debut record Infamous Angel, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, was recently named one of the “greatest country albums of all time” by Rolling Stone, and the two albums that followed, My Life and The Way I Should, were both nominated for GRAMMYs. From there, DeMent released three records on her own label, Flariella Records, the most recent of which, The Trackless Woods (2015), was hailed as “a quietly powerful triumph” by The Guardian. DeMent’s songs have also been featured in film (True Grit) and television (The Leftovers) and recorded by numerous artists. Fittingly, she received the Americana Music Trailblazer Award in 2017.

About Linda Fahey
Linda Fahey joined the Folk Alley team in 2005. Her love for folk and roots music started early on while growing up in the folk-drenched Boston area. After teaching ecology and environmental science at a small private college in the Adirondacks of NYS and presenting/promoting folk and acoustic blues concerts in the Saranac Lake area for seven years, an unexpected twist of fate led to a job offer from Garrison Keillor to work for ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ as Associate Producer (aka talent booker.) While in Minnesota, Linda also worked for the Twin Cities-based folk label Red House Records.

About Jan Vanderhorst
Jan Vanderhorst has hosted “Just Us Folk”, a show devoted to acoustic roots music since 1981 on the radio and online. Jan has been a fixture at festivals, a judge for the Canadian Folk Music and the Juno Awards, and served on the Board of Directors of OCFF/FMO and the Mariposa Folk Foundation. Recently he has interviewed performers for the live stream of Kitchener’s “Folk Night at the Registry” concert series. Jan has published his interviews in the books, ‘Just Us Folk: We Shift and Remain’ and ‘The Long Haul.’ Jan is a regular contributor to Roots Music Canada.

About Larry Groce
Larry Groce was artistic director and host of the live performance radio show Mountain Stage from its inception in 1983 until 2021. The show, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed by NPR Music, has featured over 2,000 different artists from across the USA and around the world and is heard by hundreds of thousands each week on radio and podcasts. As a performer, Larry is a Grammy nominee who recorded twenty-four albums and the Top Ten single, “Junk Food Junkie”. He’s been inducted into the West Virginia Music and West Virginia Broadcasting Halls of Fame.

About Brian O’Donovan
July 30, 1957-October 6, 2023
Brian O’Donovan, who passed away in October at 66, served as an Ambassador for Celtic culture while becoming a major figure in American sports and stadium concert production. Born in West Cork in 1957, he visited Boston in 1980 and never left, beginning on radio at WERS. There he began event production which led to a gig with an Irish music festival. In 1986 O’Donovan began hosting “A Celtic Sojourn” Saturday afternoons on WGBH. That three-hour program spawned a live event for more than two decades, A Christmas Celtic Sojourn.

About Bob Sherman
July 23, 1932-June 27, 2023
For more than five decades, Bob Sherman brought together emerging classical and folk performers, as well as established stars, for interviews and live performers.

Bob joined his first radio station, WQXR in the mid-1950s as a clerk/typist and worked his way up to director of recorded music, then music director. By 1969, he was program director. He wrote scripts for a program called “Folk Music of the World,” but he envisioned a different type of program to connect with the surge in popularity of folk music. The station interviewed other potential hosts, including Pete Seeger, but Bob was ultimately chosen. He called the show “Woody’s Children,” in homage to Woody Guthrie. WQXR canceled the show in 1999. WFUV, affiliated with Fordham University, soon picked it up again. remained on the air for nearly 55 years.

A graduate of New York University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Bob earned a master’s degree in music from the Teachers College, Columbia University. He wrote music criticism for The New York Times and wrote several other books, including, with his brother, Alexander, one about their mother, musician Nadia Reisenberg.

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