Performers

The Richmond Folk Festival is now one of Virginia’s largest and most anticipated events of the year. The Festival strives to present the very finest traditional artists from across the nation. In making its selections, a local Programming Committee is guided by the following definition, which is the guide for the National Council for Traditional Arts and the National Folk Festival, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts:

FOLK & TRADITIONAL ARTS – a definition
The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. Genres of artistic activity include, but are not limited to, music, dance, crafts, and oral expression.
- National Endowment for the Arts

Interested in performing at the 2017 Richmond Folk Festival?

Programming discussions take place from November to May with most programming decisions complete by June 1st prior to this year's festivals. All artists must follow the same process. If you're interested in applying for the 2017 festival, check out "How to be a performer at the Richmond Folk Festival"

In the Classroom

Through the generous support of its sponsors, the Richmond Folk Festival will fill Richmond area school auditoriums and classrooms with performances and presentations of deeply-rooted cultural expressions.
 
The week prior to the festival, master musicians and artists visit several area schools. Together, the artists and students share music, song, craft, stories and memories that will last a lifetime.


First Announced Performers for the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Southern Italian pizzica tarantata
Salento, Italy

In southern Italy, the music that accompanies the trance-like dance ritual of tarantism nearly vanished before becoming the most prominent symbol of a regional resurgence. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (CGS), a seven-member ensemble from the Salento peninsula of Apulia, known as the “the heel of the boot” of Italy, led this revival of interest in the music and dance of Salento. In the process, the group became the biggest stars of Italian traditional music.

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The Fairfield Four

The Fairfield Four

African American gospel quartet singing
Nashville, Tennessee

The Fairfield Four is the most distinguished traditional African American a cappella gospel quartet working today. Organized in 1921 by Reverend J.R. Carrethers, assistant pastor of the Fairfield Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, this year the legendary Nashville-based group celebrates 95 years of bringing the gospel message to audiences worldwide.

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Gary U.S. Bonds with 
Gene “Daddy G” Barge

Gary U.S. Bonds with
Gene “Daddy G” Barge

The Norfolk Sound
Norfolk, Virginia, by way of Long Island & Chicago

Its many partisans argue that Norfolk, Virginia is the true birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, celebrating the contributions of the incomparable Gary U.S. Bonds, the first and biggest star of the revolutionary Norfolk Sound, and legendary saxophonist Gene “Daddy G” Barge, the bandleader behind its greatest hits.

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Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie

Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie

zydeco
Eunice, Louisiana

One of the nation's most exciting performers of zydeco, Geno Delafose heats up the clubs and honky-tonks of Southwest Louisiana every weekend with this irresistible dance music—that is, when “The Creole Cowboy” is not busy operating his Double D Ranch in Eunice. For Geno Delafose, life is divided equally between being a cowboy at home and a world-class zydeco accordionist on stage.

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Homayoun Sakhi & Salar Nader

Homayoun Sakhi & Salar Nader

Afghan rubâb and tabla
San Francisco Bay Area, California

The evocative music of Homayoun Sakhi and Salar Nader tells a story of hope and perseverance, both of the Afghan people and of their traditional music. Like so many others, their families fled Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and the years of Taliban control; in so doing they took their musical traditions to new places, both geographical—making a home in the United States—and metaphorical, as their music rubbed shoulders with contemporary sounds. Individually and together, Sakhi and Nader have become two of the defining artists in Afghan music today.

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Jason D. Williams

Jason D. Williams

rockabilly
Memphis, Tennessee

When Jason D. Williams sits down at the piano and pounds the keys—with his fingers, and elbows and boots—hollering about hillbillies, holy rollers, and drinking sweet wine, he declares that the 60-year-old tradition of rockabilly is alive and kicking. Having learned from some of the music’s founding artists, Williams has now taken his place among today’s leading proponents of the rockabilly sound and swagger.

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Jason D. Williams

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

bluegrass
Xenia, Ohio

Joe Mullins has built a life on "banjo picking and broadcasting" and that's why the bluegrass band he leads is called the Radio Ramblers. Carrying the family torch lit by his highly respected father, Paul “Moon” Mullins, Joe is a driving force in the world of bluegrass. A masterful Scruggs-style banjo picker and gifted singer known for his soaring high tenor, he leads a top-notch band that can do it all, delivering impeccable instrumentals and superb harmony singing with equal ease.

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Marquise Knox

Marquise Knox

blues
St. Louis, Missouri

If there is an artist who could be said to truly connect the past, present and future of the blues, it is a 25-year-old bluesman named Marquise Knox. Born and raised in St. Louis with family roots in Grenada, Mississippi, Marquise burst onto the blues scene at the age of 16, astonishing veteran bluesmen and audiences alike with performances that evidenced a musical spirit and understanding well beyond his age.

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Marquise Knox

Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy

Cape Breton and Ontario fiddling
Nova Scotia and Ontario, Canada

If Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, has a musical ambassador, it might be Natalie MacMaster, whose virtuosic fiddling and energetic step dancing have brought the island’s music international acclaim. Cape Breton boasts a complex, beautiful style of fiddling brought to Canada by early 19th-century Scottish immigrants. “It is very family oriented,” says MacMaster, “and passed down from generation to generation.” The music, she says, “is part of how you live.”

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Sheila Kay

Sheila Kay Adams

Appalachian songs, stories, and ballads
Marshall, North Carolina

Seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller, and musician Sheila Kay Adams is a national treasure. She performs the old mountain ballads, stories, and songs with a sense of conviction, honesty, and dignity that reveals a deep respect for tradition, and demonstrates the emotional intensity of the unadorned human voice.

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Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY

Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY

traditional Sri Lankan dance
Staten Island, New York

In recent years, the Tompkinsville neighborhood of Staten Island has earned the moniker “Little Sri Lanka,” in honor of the vibrant immigrant community that has developed in this New York City borough since the first Sri Lankan family arrived in the late 1960s. Now numbering about 5,000 people, this is believed to be the largest Sri Lankan enclave in the United States, receiving enthusiastic notice for introducing American audiences to traditional Kandyan dance through the work of the Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY.

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