Blue Ridge Music Center logo. Courtesy of the center.

 As part of its Deep Roots, Many Voices project exploring issues related to diversity and inclusion in American roots-based music, the Blue Ridge Music Center is hosting a free online symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday.

The event will focus on strategies to increase diversity on stage, in the audience and in organizations. The discussion panel will be composed of performers, event producers and representatives from music organizations.

Amy Reitnouer will kick off the event with a keynote address. Reitnouer is president of Folk Alliance International and is cofounder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation, an online publication that has become an advocate for change, diversity and representation within the broader music community.


·         Atiba Berkely (president of Piedmont Blues Preservation Society)

·         Michelle Conceison (owner and artist manager at Market Monkeys, chair of IBMA’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)

·         Dom Flemons (musician, singer, songwriter, historian and advocate of issues related to diversity and inclusion in music)

·         Charly Lowry (musician, singer-songwriter and advocate for issues related to indigenous peoples)

·         Joe Seamons (cofounder and director of The Rhapsody Project, an organization that addresses racism and promotes cultural equity through music)

·         Kamara Thomas (singer, founding member of the Country Soul Songbook, an organization focused on amplifying historically marginalized voices in country, Americana and roots music)

·         Brandi Waller-Pace (founder and executive director of Decolonizing the Music Room and organizer of the Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival)

Conference schedule:

·         2 p.m.  Welcome remarks

·         2:05 p.m.  Keynote address by Amy Reitnouer

·         2:20 p.m.  Excerpts from the “Deep Roots, Many Voices” video interview series

·         2:30 p.m.  Panel discussion

·         3:45 p.m.  Q&A session

·         4 p.m. Wrap-up and closing remarks

The symposium is free and open to everyone, but advance registration is required at Registrants will receive a link via email to join the symposium.

This event is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Partners include the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and National Park Service. The Bluegrass Situation is the promotional partner for this project.