Between ice storms and cold sheets of rain coming down here in North Carolina, spring appears to be timidly making it onto the horizon. Violets planted in November are sprouting in lawns, and folks are wistfully perusing seed catalogs.

IBMA’s World of Bluegrass poster design back in 2000 featured a painting of instrument necks and pegheads growing wild in a field of grass. Designed to look like a seed package, the small print at the bottom said: “Plant close together, in tight harmony. Will bloom for generations. For use in all climates including shaded areas, urban areas, classroom settings, and foggy mountain tops. CAUTION: Likely to spread onto porch areas, stages and parking lots.”

Despite a global pandemic and the most challenging year in recent history, bluegrass music continues to grow like the crabgrass in my front yard—in living rooms, on podcasts, via live-streamed Facebook concerts, virtual seminars and conferences, and Zoom songwriting sessions. The first round of recipients of Shultz Fund grants is announced in this issue, with exciting news about how bluegrass music continues to grow among underrepresented ethnic and racial groups.

The IBMA Foundation experienced in 2020 the biggest year of donations since its inception back in 2007, with more than $88,000 received in contributions. Supporters are finding creative new ways to give. A friend in New Jersey contributed shares of stock. Others are using credit cards to make automatic monthly donations. An anonymous donor gave us an acoustic bass with a case, stand and strings, which will be put to good use in an afterschool bluegrass program for children. Four more friends have donated fundraising, marketing, and event-planning skills. The Pisgah Banjo Company created a banjo raffle to benefit the Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund, and we have news coming in April about another  exciting new instrument raffle, so stay tuned for that!

Like spring in the garden, there are new buds of life rising from the worldwide bluegrass music community. Thank you for your creative and kind generosity, and I hope your gardens grow well this spring!

–Nancy Cardwell, IBMA Foundation executive director

Go back to the March 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.