Encouraging reports are coming in from 2021 recipients of Arnold Shultz Fund grants. Here are three that we received during the past month.
The Louisville Folk School
The Louisville Folk School was honored to be a recipient of a 2021 Arnold Shultz Fund grant from the IBMA Foundation. The grant was critical in funding our conversation series: “Exploring the African-American Influence on Kentucky Music,” which was co-presented with Kentucky Performing Arts. Participants in this project included Dr. Richard Brown, Dom Flemons, Rachel Grimes, Michael Jones, Keith Lawrence, Leyla McCalla and Dr. Angela Scharfenberger. All the grant funds went toward compensation for these artists and scholars. (Flemons, Brown, Lawrence and Jones are pictured above in the screen shot.)
The series explored the movement of the banjo from Africa through the Caribbean, an early Kentucky fiddler who was the son of slaves, and the life and influence of Arnold Shultz. In addition to three virtual conversations exploring these themes, our series concluded with a live performance by Leyla McCalla in Louisville. Click here to see the entire series on YouTube. The video from the Arnold Shultz presentation is here.
Arnold Shultz grant funds were used by fiddler Nokosee Fields to pay for studio time in south Louisiana. The project is currently in post-production, with an expected release date in early 2022. Fields, who comes from a lineage of Cherokee fiddling, is a member of the Creek, Osage and Cherokee nations. His new recording, engineered by Dirk Powell, will explore indigenous and African American contributions to North American string band music traditions, through a repertoire of old-time music and bluegrass songs and instrumentals.
Anni Beach, founder and bandleader of the Jam Pak Band, a charitable organization dedicated to making people happy with bluegrass music, reported on the BanJam 2021 program that took place from May 3 to November 15, 2021, in Chandler, Arizona. The grant from the Arnold Shultz Fund was combined with a grant from the newly organized City of Chandler DEI Task Force to pay for instructor stipends, video production, snacks, framed certificates of participation and travel. Administrative work was donated.
Organizers for the series of banjo and bass lessons for African American young people in Chandler, AZ, anticipated attendance of six to ten participants. The program was more successful than expected, with 12 banjo students taught by Giselle Lee, assisted by Lucy Tanyi. Joelle Tambe-Ebot taught acoustic bass to four students, assisted by guitar accompanist Ryland Ellerby and tub bass player Oculus Hakizimana.
The goal of introducing and reclaiming the roots music for African-American folks was met. Small children and youth as well as several adults were able to play tunes on the banjo and bass. Some history was explained, and holding and playing instruments like these for the first time was great. Banjam played three public performances, beginning with two for Juneteenth 2021 and again for a BASEAz Food Truck Friday in support of Black-owned businesses. They held small jams for parents, to demonstrate new skills.
We are so grateful for the grant from the IBMA Foundation and for the inspiration of the Arnold Shultz Fund to carry out such a far-reaching introduction to bluegrass and roots music. Jam Pak and our music community will continue to promote and support the philosophy that “Bluegrass Music is for Everyone”. A video report of BanJam 2021 follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1Igga0YWek&t=49s
RETURN to the January 2022 issue of The Cornerstone.