The world is changing, or at least it should be. While 2020 will be remembered for a lot of things, the two most prominent by far will be Covid 19 / Coronavirus and the rise against social injustice. As the pandemic marches on, so does the right for racial equality in all forms, including Americana music.
This Thursday, August 20th at 1p PDT / 4p EDT, a plethora of noted black musicians, industry veterans and activist-minded Americana musicians will host a live-streamed panel Black Equity in Americana: A Conversation. Moderated by seasoned freelance music journalist Marcus K. Dowling, the live Zoom panel will stream on the Americana Music Association’s Facebook page and looks to feature an honest, restorative dialogue aimed at advocating for a more significant presence for Black artists and industry leaders as stakeholders more broadly represented in Americana’s present and future.
“As the country reckons with the roots of white supremacy, it is well past time that the Americana scene does the same,” proclaims gothic blues artist Adia Victoria. “It is time for folks to confront the ways that white supremacy has blighted the careers and reach of Black artists. Black Americana artists, whose ancestors created the same music that White artists are able to appropriate and build careers from, are demanding something beyond token representation. It’s time that the Americana scene respected Black people as much as they respect Black culture.”
Acclaimed singer / songwriter / storyteller Kamara Thomas agrees. “The Americana community has an opportunity and a responsibility to demonstrate cultural leadership right now, by taking demonstrable steps toward equity for Black artists and the many underrepresented voices in this genre. This music prides itself on telling stories, and I see our present state of upheaval as being a direct result of too many viewpoints and voices being denied and left out of the American story.
Intent on addressing the problem of what many perceive to be blatant racism in Americana and accelerating racial equality within the genre, this dynamic group of well-respected, Black, and activist-minded Americana musicians and professionals will discuss methods for enacting systemic change bearing sustainable impact. The first of what will likely be numerous conversations, Thursday will set the table for an exciting future.
Lilli Lewis, a woman who wears many hats at Louisiana Red Hot Records including artist, General Manager and Head of A&R, is excited for the opportunity to move the needle towards necessary change. “We’re really in an exciting moment. Black artists and black art have been at the heart of Americana since its inception, and now we’re in a position to address what this means from a relatively new point of view. It’s as if we’re being invited to celebrate the reality of the genre and its participants in a more overt and direct way. Moreover, Americana as a genre and the vibrant community that supports it is in a position to be a leader for the culture at large when it comes to issues of equity.”
In addition, a follow-up panel on Black Equity in Americana has been scheduled for the Americana Music Association’s Thriving Roots Conference September 16-18, 2020.
Live Zoom Panel on Thursday, August 20 at 1pm PDT
Streaming on Americana Music Association’s Facebook Page: