“There’s an unspoken sort of racism that threads the Americana scene in Nashville and beyond,” said singer/songwriter Adia Victoria in a recent tweet. That’s what she looks to address as part of an upcoming Zoom panel hosted by the Americana Music Association on Thursday, August 20. The event will stream live from their Facebook page at 4:00 p.m. EST, and it will center on methods for redressing a music culture that often reflects the prejudices and inequalities of American society at large, even as it takes intrinsic influence from Black art forms like gospel, blues, and soul.
“The panel is 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,” says the panel’s Facebook event page. “For nearly three centuries, Americana music has celebrated the soulful, multi-ethnic, and communal essence of the American experience. However, throughout the country’s–and by extension–the genre’s history, minimal representation of Black artists has been a constant.”
Panelists include artists–like Victoria, Kamara Thomas, and Rev. Sekou–as well as industry professionals like Jason Galaz, who organizes the Muddy Roots Music Festival, and Lilli Lewis, the General Manager and A&R Head for Louisiana Red Hot Records. The discussion will be moderated by music journalist and entrepreneur Marcus K. Dowling. As the event page explains, all were chosen to represent a diverse range of Black experiences and perspectives for the future of Americana.
The Americana Music Association plans to keep the conversation going after this Thursday’s “honest, restorative” dialogue. A follow-up panel is scheduled to take place at the organization’s Thriving Roots Conference approximately one month after, September 16 through 18.