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News & Press: E-News

E-News March 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jerod Rivers
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Calling all #FAI2017 delegates. If you have not already, please take some time (about 10 minutes) to fill out the post-conference survey. Doing so provides us with invaluable information for planning and improving next year's conference. 

Complete the survey by March 30th and be entered to win a FREE registration for #FAI2018!

Reflecting On an Inspiring Conference 

While it is not possible to capture all the thousands of moments that made this conference a nurturing, inspiring, energetic, and empowering week in the global folk music community, we compiled a highlights reel below:

  • 2,600 Attendees, 23 Countries, 1,000 First-Timers, 200 Official Showcases, over 3,000 Private Showcases, and 50 Panels.
  • Keynote presentations from Ani DiFranco and Billy Bragg.
  • International Folk Music Awards Show, featuring a performance by Kris Kristofferson, and presentations from Paula Cole, Megan Mullally, Bruce Cockburn, and Eliza Gilkyson.
  • Two Artist in Residency projects in partnership with local prisons, acclaimed Blues artist Rita Chiarelli, Latin-Fusion band Making Movies, and poet Octavio “Chato” Villalobos.
  • A moving tribute to Louis Jay Meyers and the announcement that our Music Camp will henceforth be named after him.
  • An epic group photo on the rooftop of the Westin Crown Center with delegates raising aloft copies of the US Constitution provided by Lynne Margolis, the ACLU, and generous donors Troy Campbell, Charlie Hunter, David Cantwell, Bill Maruca, Hannah Linroth, Glenn Last, Rod Picott, and Samuel Hudson.
  • Community outreach to four local schools, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House.
  • The SOLD OUT 2nd Annual Kansas City Folk Festival, featuring 6-stages of national, international and regional talent, headline performances by Bobby Rush and Billy Bragg, and an artisan market.
  • Click here for a gallery of photos.

During his keynote address, Billy Bragg asked a new generation of folk artists to be visible and take their message to places where it will challenge the status quo. “Empathy plus action equals solidarity,” said Bragg. 

In her presentation, Ani DiFranco spoke of the importance of staying politically engaged by voting. She urged audience members to “Believe in democracy just enough to show up and make it real,” as she emphasized consistent voter participation. “Apply persistence to your will to vote. Persist in the actions every day.” 

The International Folk Music awards show included the presentation of six Spirit of Folk Awards, three Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Best of 2016 categories, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Artist of the Year going to Sarah Jarosz for Undercurrent, Michael Kiwanuka & Inflo for “Black Man in a White World,” and Parker Millsap, respectively.

In a permanent commitment to honor the socially conscious roots of folk music, two new awards were launched this year—The People’s Voice Award was given to Bruce Cockburn and the Clearwater Award to its namesake The Clearwater Festival. The first inductees to the Folk DJ Hall of Fame were announced and include Oscar Brand, Howard and Roz Larman, Mike Regenstreif, Rich Warren, and Gene Shay.

This was our most attended event to date, one where we saw the folk community reconnect with its core values en masse.  Our sincerest thanks to all who took part in creating a space where so many people could connect, reflect, and leave feeling inspired. To anyone we missed, we hope to see you next year at #FAI2018!

Stay tuned for our April edition for additional program highlights.

Photo credits:  Cover photo by Jerod Rivers; AIR photo by James Dean; 
Billy, Ani, Bruce/ Kris photos by Jake Jacobson.

Press Mentions

With literally thousands of stories to tell at Folk Alliance, we're grateful to some incredible journalists and media outlets who came, who saw, and who shared a piece of FAI with the world. Here is an abridged sample below. For a complete list of media, mentions visit our media page.

Wall Street Journal — Does Folk Music Still Matter?

Billboard - The Times They Are A-Changin: Is Folk Music Still Relevant for the Resistance?

The Globe and Mail

Folk Singer Bruce Cockburn Still Standing Up for Free Speech 

Deutschland Radio - The US Folk Scene Under Donald Trump/ With empathy against antipathy (in German)

Le Devoir -  Towards a Broader Conception of Folk. Forbidden Folk, Trad and World of Quebec and the ROC have an appointment in Kansas City (in French)

American Songwriter - Folk Alliance International Conference Celebrates The Power Of Song

No Depression - Folk Alliance 2017, Day 1: Inclusivity, Roots Music, and Late Night Jams

Acoustic Guitar — At Folk Alliance International Conference, Protests Songs Unite Guitarists Ani DiFranco, Billy Bragg, Tift Merritt, Eliza Gilkyson and More

The Bluegrass Situation - Broadband Download: A ramble through Folk Alliance

KCUR - At Folk Music Gathering In Kansas City, The Future Of Protest Music Goes Global

KCUR - At Kansas City Folk Alliance, Billy Bragg Says Music Can Bring People Together

Kansas City Star, Back to Rockville Column - Should music get political? Songwriters share when it’s a good or bad idea 

The Oklahoman A voice was sounding: 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference Recap

Middle Tennessee Public Radio Peace Or Protest? Folk Music Faces A Divided America 

Herald Arts and Life - 'Keep singing': Bruce Cockburn calls on folk artists to push for free speech


Meet the Executive Committee

FAI is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors representing leadership in the folk music industry. The Board is elected by the voting members of the organization each fall, and an Annual General Meeting of members is held during the February conference. Once the new Board of Directors is seated at the AGM, the new Executive Committee is announced.  Meet the new team.

President - Matt Smith             Vice-Pres. - Lisa Schwartz      Treasurer - Alka Sharma
Managing Director                   Festival and Artistic Director    Executive Director
Club Passim                            Philadelphia Folk Festival        Folk Music Ontario

Secretary - Deana McCloud     At-Large - Matt Sever
Executive Director                    Artist, Matt the Electrician
Woody Guthrie Center

To see the full Board of Directors and bios visit our website.

Louis Jay Meyers Music Camp

On February 15, 2017, FAI announced the re-naming of our annual Music Camp and unveiled a new logo in honor of our late Executive Director, Louis Jay Meyers. With the blessing of his family and the Louis Jay Meyers Music Project, the camp will henceforth be named after the man who dreamt it up and saw it to fruition in its inaugural year.

We are proud to continue to offer instructional programming in the imaginative, no limits spirit in which Louis approached all his projects.

Presenting the Louis Jay Meyers Music Camp logo:

Make 2018 the year you attend our camp, February 16 - 18, 2018.
Look for sign-ups this fall.
Photo credit: Jayne Toohey


To purchase ad space in a future FAI e-newsletter, please email

Announcing Our 30th Conference

February 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of our organization. Below is the official artwork created by Michael Wrycraft inspired by the idea of gathering our community of founders, lifers, families, traveling musicians, industry folks, and fans to celebrate 30 years of community and song.  
Registration opens on May 30th, but stay tuned for 30th Anniversary pricing exclusive to members in mid-May.  Join us round the campfire next February in Kansas City!

Celebrating 30 Years of Folk Alliance

Share your Folk Alliance memories! We've started gathering files, images, and stories for a 30-year retrospective at the 2018 Conference. Please contribute to the archive here.

We are still searching for any print materials or artifacts from the inaugural 1989 gathering in Malibu and the 1990 Philadelphia Conference. Any leads or donations are welcome, please contact

FAI Archives

Lifetime Achievement Award Videos

Each year, we present the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards to honor the cultural impact of folk music's legendary figures, including 2017 honoree Helen Creighton.

Visit our Awards page to access the full archive of short documentary films featuring past honorees.

FAI Partner Events

Folk in the Foyer at Kauffman Center 

KC Folk Festival Alumni, Under the Big Oak Tree, will play in the foyer before a concert by the Oak Ridge Boys.

March 26, 2017  
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts 
Kansas City, MO 

Purchase tickets here.
Mundial Montréal 

The North American Meeting of World Music. Submission deadline to showcase is April 3rd, 2017.  Apply here.

November 14 - 17, 2017  
Montréal, Canada
Purchase tickets here.
Arts KC Encounter - Folk Songs and Stories

A collaborative event with ArtsKC and The Writer's Place. Will feature a program co-curated with TWP featuring Kansas City local musicians and poets.

May 18  | 5:308:30 pm 
The Writer's Place
3607 Pennsylvania Ave, KCMO

Purchase tickets here.

Folk Alliance Regional Events

Upcoming Folk Alliance International Regional Conferences

May 17-21:          SERFA - Southeast Regional Folk Alliance / Montreat, NC
September 27 - October 1: SWRFA - Southwest Regional Folk Alliance / Austin, TX
October 5-8:        FAR-WEST - Folk Alliance Region - West / Bellevue, WA
October 18-21:    FARM - Folk Alliance Region Midwest / Iowa City, IA 
November 9-12:  NERFA - Northeast Regional Folk Alliance / Stamford, CT

Thank You to Our 2017 Event Funders!


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