Joanne Shenandoah is a Wolf Clan member of the Oneida Nation — Iroquois Confederacy. She is the daughter of Maisie Shenandoah, a Clanmother and the late Clifford Shenandoah, an Onondaga chief and jazz guitarist.
Her parents had a deep love for music encouraging Joanne to study voice flute piano clarinet guitar and cello. Joanne’s talent combined with her beautiful clear voice enables her to embellish the ancients’ songs of the Iroquois using a blend of traditional and contemporary instrumentation.
After spending 14 years as a computer programmer and consultant in Washington DC, Shenandoah became close with the tribal elders and her extended family who reacquainted her with the stories and songs of her people which prompted a personal artistic reawakening in 1989. Since then Joanne Shenandoah has won several musical achievement awards most recently she received “Best Female Artist” at both the 1999 and 1998 Native American Music Awards and in 1997 she was recognized as a “Native American Woman of Hope.”
Joanne Shenandoah’s music has been featured on the popular TV series “Northern Exposure”. She has appeared with Jackson Browne, Rita Coolidge and Willie Nelson and at the White House for Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore.
On May 12, 2002 she was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Syracuse University’s (Syracuse New York) 148th commencement. The award is the first of its kind ever presented to a Native musician at an American university.
In 2003 she was a guest artist on the album Sisters (Oneida Hymns) with Maisie Shenandoah and Liz Robert.
In 2005 she appeared on the album Sacred Ground, a Tribute to Mother Earth. The album is a compilation by Katahdin Productions that features all new recordings by celebrated stars in the genre. She delivers both a traditional spirit and contemporary style on “Seeking Light”. She is also featured on the final track Mother Earth joining Walela for the anthem that was used in the award-winning documentary Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action. The film takes an in-depth look at the environmental hazards threatening Native American reservations.
Becky Buller grew up in Minnesota. She played fiddle with her parents and Gordy and Roxy Shultz in the group Prairie Grass. She studied classical violin with both Patti Tryhus and Charles Gray and participated in the Mankato Area Youth Symphony and the Minnesota All-State Orchestra while in high school. Becky won the junior division of the 1996 Minnesota State Old Time Fiddle Championship in Cotton, Minnesota.
She graduated in 2001 with a public relations degree from East Tennessee State University (ETSU), where she took part in the prestigious Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music program. That same year, Becky’s songwriting won first-place in the bluegrass category of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in Wilksboro, North Carolina.
Her journey as a professional musician included ten-years with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike. She is featured on several of that group’s recordings, wrote for the group and toured internationally with them as well. She also produced several of Val’s records.
Becky was also a significant part of three albums with the award-winning Daughters of Bluegrass: Pickin’ Like A Girl (2013), Bluegrass Bouquet (2008), and Back To The Well (2006), which won the 2006 IBMA Recorded Event Of The Year award.
In 2018, Becky performed with the all-female bluegrass super-group, The First Ladies Of Bluegrass, which includes all the first women to win in their respective categories at the IBMA awards: Alison Brown (banjo, 1991); Becky (fiddle, 2016); Sierra Hull (mandolin, 2016); Missy Raines (bass, 1998); Molly Tuttle (guitar, 2017). This configuration took home the 2018 IBMA Recorded Event Of The Year award for their work on “Swept Away”, written by Laurie Lewis and recorded by the First Ladies on Missy Raines’ solo album, Royal Traveller.
Crêpe Paper Heart, Becky’s fourth solo album and second release for the Dark Shadow Recording label, came out on Valentine’s Day 2018. The album featured Becky’s renowned road band: Ned Luberecki (banjo); Professor Dan Boner (mandolin/guitar/vocals); Brandon Bostic (guitar); Daniel “Hulk” Hardin (bass/vocals); and Nate Lee (fiddle); along with award-winning guests Rhonda Vincent, The Fairfield Four, Sam Bush, Frank Solivan, Claire Lynch, Rob Ickes, Stephen and Jana Mougin, and Erin Youngberg (FY5).
In 2018, Becky Buller released a music video featuring special guest artist, Sam Bush. “The Rebel And The Rose,” co-written by Buller, appeared on her Crepe Paper Heart album. “This song is special to me on so many levels, from writing it with my dear friend, Tony Rackley, to recording it with my hero, Sam Bush,” Becky said. “The message of hope in this song is timeless; not one of us is so broken that love can’t mend us.”
Becky is very active in the bluegrass music business community, serving on the IBMA Foundation board. She was on the IBMA Board of Directors from 2013-17 and did a three-year term as chair of the IBMA Songwriter Committee from 2013-16.
Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe grew up in North Texas. Although they initially studied classical violin, in 1998 the sisters changed to western fiddle when they visited the North Texas State Fair in Denton, Texas. There, they first listened to Texas-style fiddling. Later, they met Joey and Sherry McKenzie, national fiddle champions and organizers of the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival & Contest in Greenville, Texas.
The Quebe sisters became students of the McKenzies and the Quebe family relocated to Burleson, Texas in Tarrant County. The sisters studied with the McKenzies for several years and Joey McKenzie became their arranger and a longtime member of their band.
In 2003, The Quebe Sisters released their first album, Texas Fiddlers, supported by Joey McKenzie on rhythm guitar, Mark Abbott on bass and steel guitarist Tom Morrell.
The Quebe Sisters are currently based in Dallas. The sisters and their band present a distinctive triple fiddle and three-part harmony mix of western swing, jazz-influenced swing, country, Texas-style fiddling, and Western music.
“We differentiate our music as ‘Progressive Western Swing’ from simply ‘Western Swing’ because we aren’t trying to sound just like Bob Wills,” Grace Quebe explains. “Instead, we continue his vision, playing the style he pioneered in an authentic way by incorporating new genres and songs, interpreting them using our own unique voice through Country instrumentation.”
The band continues the traditions once found in Texas dance halls and honky-tonks. Grace adds, “To us, preserving the tradition of Western Swing isn’t about keeping something alive like a relic. Western Swing has always been about innovation.”
Frontera Bugalú is a musical project developed by accordionist, guitarist, vocalist and composer Kiko Rodriguez and pianist Joel Osvaldo in El Paso, Texas in 2011. The group has become well-known for its lively música fronteriza, a combination of borderland folk, mambo and cumbia music.
The band includes members from both sides of the border, including vocalist Anabel Gutierrez and bassist Alex Ravana from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Rhiannon Giddens was born February 21, 1977 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer-songwriter and researcher, best known as one of the founders of the country, blues and old-time music band Carolina Chocolate Drops, where she was the lead singer, violinist, and banjo player.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ album Genuine Negro Jig won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
One of the essential part of Giddens’ work is her research of folk instruments and traditions of the African-American diaspora.
A MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, Rhiannon has performed for the Obama’s at the White House and acted in two seasons of the hit television series Nashville.
In February 2015, Giddens released her debut solo recording Tomorrow Is My Turn on Nonesuch Records to widespread critical acclaim. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the album includes songs made famous by Patsy Cline, Odetta, Dolly Parton, and Nina Simone.
In addition to her solo recordings and her albums with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon recorded Out On the Ocean: Music of the British Isles (2004) and Northern Lights (2005) with Gaelwynd; Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (2014) as The New Basement Tapes; and Songs of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways), a collaborative album that tells the stories of historic black womanhood and survival. Rhiannon has European American, African American and Native American background.
In 2016, Rhiannon received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.
In 2018, Rhiannon Giddens collaborated with Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell released a critically acclaimed American folk banjo album titled Songs of Our Native Daughters.
in 2019 she collaborated with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. They released an album titled There Is No Other.
Matuto is a blues and Brazilian music collective based in New York City. Guitarist Clay Ross and accordionist Rob Curto formed the band in 2009. A varying group of musicians join Ross and Curto during their tours.
Taj Mahal is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, ethnomusicologist, and award-winning artists. His music includes elements of Afro-Caribbean music, blues, folk, hula, funk and other influences.
Taj Mahal was born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks on May 17, 1942 in Harlem but grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father a jazz pianist composer and arranger of Caribbean descent and his mother a gospel-singing schoolteacher from South Carolina encouraged their children to respect and be proud of their roots. His father had an extensive record collection and a short-wave radio that brought sounds from near and far to Taj’s ears. His parents also started him on classical piano lessons but after two weeks he says “it was already clear I had my own concept of how I wanted to play.” The lessons stopped but Taj didn’t.
In addition to piano, the young musician learned to play the clarinet trombone and harmonica and he loved to sing. He discovered his stepfather’s guitar and became serious about it in his early teens when Lynnwood Perry an accomplished young guitarist from North Carolina moved in next door. Perry was an expert in the Piedmont style of playing but he could also play like Muddy Waters Lightin’ Hopkins John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed. Taj was inspired to begin playing guitar in earnest.
Springfield in the 1950s was full of recent arrivals both from abroad and from elsewhere in the U.S. “We spoke several dialects in my house — Southern Caribbean African — and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe,” said Taj. In addition musicians from the Caribbean Africa and all over the U.S. frequently visited the Fredericks’ household. Taj became even more fascinated with roots — where all the different forms of music he was hearing came from what path they took to get to their current states how they influenced each other on the way. He threw himself into the study of older forms of African-American music, music the record companies largely ignored.
While attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as an agriculture student in the early 1960s the musician transformed himself into Taj Mahal an idea that came to him in a dream. He began playing with the popular U. Mass. party band The Elektras then left Massachusetts in 1964 for the blues-heavy Los Angeles club scene. There he formed The Rising Sons withRy Cooder Ed Cassidy Jesse Lee Kinkaid Gary Marker and Kevin Kelly. At the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles The Rising Sons opened for Otis Redding Sam the Sham The Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas at The Trip. Taj also had the opportunity to hear meet and play with such blues legends as Howlin’ Wolf Muddy Waters Junior Wells Buddy Guy Louis and Dave Meyers Sleepy John Estes Yank Rachel Lightin’ Hopkins Bessie Jones the Georgia Sea Island Singers and Hammy Nixon.
Taj tapped these experiences on three hugely influential records: Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch’l Blues (1968) and Giant Step/De Old Folks at Home (1969). Drawing on all the musical forms he’d absorbed as a child these early albums showed signs of the musical exploration that would be Taj’s hallmark over the years to come. “I didn’t want to fall into the trap of complacency,” said Taj Mahal. “I wanted to keep pushing the musical ideas I had about jazz music from Africa and the Caribbean. I wanted to explore the connections between different kinds of music.”
In 1970 Taj traveled to Spain to have a well-deserved rest and vacation in the home of the guitar. He carved out his own musical niche with a string of adventurous recordings throughout the ’70s, including Happy Just to Be Like I Am (1971), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972), the Grammy-nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973), Mo’ Roots (1974), Music Fuh Ya’ (Musica Para Tu) (1977), and Evolution (The Most Recent) (1978).
Taj’s recorded output slowed considerably during the 1980s as he toured relentlessly and immersed himself in the music and culture of his new home in Hawaii. Still that decade saw the well-received Taj (1987) as well as the first three of his celebrated children’s albums.
Taj returned to a full recording and touring schedule in the 1990s including such projects as the musical scores for the Lanston Hughes/Zora Neale Hurston play Mule Bone (1991) and the movie Zebrahead (1992). Later in the decade Dancing the Blues (1993) Phantom Blues (1996) An Evening of Acoustic Music (1996) and the Grammy Award-winning Se?or Blues (1997) were both commercial and critical successes.
At the same time Taj continued to explore world music beginning with the aptly named World Music in 1993. He joined Indian classical musicians on Mumtaz Mahal in 1995; recorded Sacred Island a blend of Hawaiian music and blues with The Hula Blues in 1998; and paired with Malian kora player Toumani Diabate for Kulanjan in 1999.
Since 2000 Taj has released a second Grammy-winning album Shoutin’ in Key (2000) and recorded a second album with The Hula Blues 2003’s lush Hanapepe Dream.
Etta Baker With Taj Mahal came out in 2004. In 2005 he released Mkutano Meets the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar. On this recording Taj Mahal took the blues to the mythical island of Zanzibar an East African island just off the coast of Tanzania. He collaborated with legendary local acts such as Culture Musical Club and Bikidude.
On February 2006 Taj Mahal was designated the “Official Blues Artist” of Massachusetts by Chapter 19 of the Acts of 26.
Maestro, released in 2008 was a landmark album where Taj Mahal explored some of his favorite musical traditions from various regions including the Mississippi Delta the Appalachian backwoods the African continent the Hawaiian Islands Europe and the Caribbean. The album features his daughter Deva Mahal, Latin rockers Los Lobos, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, the Phantom Blues Band, Ziggy Marley Angelique Kidjo, Toumani Diabate and the New Orleans Social Club.
“With his record as with all my records I want people to roll back the rug and go for it,” said Taj about Maestro. “This record is just the beginning of another chapter one that’s going to be open to more music and more ideas. Even at the end of forty years in many ways my music is just getting started.”
Taj Mahal participated in the album True Blues, a 13-song live CD released in May 28, 2013 on Telarc. It was recorded at various venues throughout the United States including Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York True Blues explores and celebrates the blues and follows its rich history from the Mississippi delta of the early 1900s to the present day. The album includes performances by Corey Harris, Taj Mahal, Shemekia Copeland, Guy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Phil Wiggins.
On True Blues, Taj Mahal performs “Done Changed My Way of Living” with the help of his Taj Mahal Trio. Recorded at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis Maryland Taj uses his trademark growl that’s reminiscent (either by design or by accident) of the great Howlin’ Wolf. The trio reemerges later for a rendition of “Mailbox Blues” that hints at the mid-20th century swing music that would eventually evolve from the blues tradition.
In 2012 he released the two disc set The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973 (Legacy, 2012).
In 2014, Taj Mahal received the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
A self-taught musician Taj plays more than 20 instruments, including ukulele, steel and dobro guitars.
In 2017, Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ released their first album as a duo, “TajMo” (Concord Records). “TajMo” includes original songs and covers, featuring cameos from Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E. and Lizz Wright. The album was self-produced by the duo and was recorded by Zach Allen, John Caldwell and Casey Wasner at Nashville’s Stu Stu Studio.
Taj Mahal (Columbia Records, 1968) The Natch’l Blues (Columbia Records, 1968) Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (Columbia Records, 1969) Happy Just to Be Like I Am (Columbia Records, 1971) Recycling The Blues & Other Related Stuff (Columbia Records, 1972) Sounder (original soundtrack) (Columbia Records, 1972) Oooh So Good ‘n Blues (Columbia Records, 1973) Mo’ Roots (Columbia Records, 1974) Music Keeps Me Together (Columbia Records, 1975) Satisfied ‘n Tickled Too (Columbia Records, 1976) Music Fuh Ya’ (Warner Bros. Records, 1976) Brothers (Warner Bros. Records, 1977) Evolution (Warner Bros. Records, 1977) Taj (Gramavision, 1987) Shake Sugaree (Music For Little People, 1988) Mule Bone (Gramavision, 1991) Like Never Before (Private Music, 1991) Dancing the Blues (Private Music, 1993) Mumtaz Mahal, with V.M. Bhatt and N. Ravikiran (Water Lily Acoustics, 1995) Phantom Blues (Private Music, 1996) Señor Blues (Private Music, 1997) Sacred Island, with The Hula Blues Band) (Private Music, 1998) Blue Light Boogie (Private Music, 1999) Kulanjan (with Toumani Diabaté) (Hannibal Records, 1999) Hanapepe Dream, with The Hula Blues Band (Hannibal Records, 2001) Mkutano Meets the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar (Respect Records, 2005) Maestro (Heads Up International, 2008) Talkin’ Christmas, with Blind Boys of Alabama (Masterworks, 2014) TajMo, with Keb’ Mo’ (Concord Records, 2017)
Alison Brown was born August 7, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. She began her music career at a young age, playing banjo in several Southern California bands alongside fiddler Stuart Duncan as a teenager. After graduating from high school, bluegrass took a back seat while Brown attended Harvard University, earned an MBA, and worked as an investment banker.
Following successful tours with both Alison Krauss and Michelle Shocked, a Grammy-nomination for her first solo effort Simple Pleasures and the Banjo Player of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Brown put her business skills to work, founding Compass Records in 1995 with her husband Garry West. Brown?s discography includes five releases on Vanguard Records as well as four on Compass Records.
In the late 1990s Brown founded NewGrange, together with Philip Aaberg, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Tim O’Brien and Todd Phillips. New Grange combines traditional American elements (folk, bluegrass, even gospel and classical) with contemporary instrumentation (strings and piano).
Brown’s first record on Compass was Out of the Blue. On her next album, Fair Weather, Brown is joined by special guests like Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, and others, returning to her bluegrass roots with stunning results. The 2000 release includes the Grammy Award-winning track “Leaving Cottondale,” featuring Bela Fleck.
In 2002, during two days between performances at the Grand Ole Opry and a trip to the Shetland Folk Festival, the Alison Brown Quartet recorded Replay, a collection of 15 tracks recorded live in the studio. More than anything, this album is the sound of the Alison Brown Quartet relaxed and having a jamming good time in the studio. The album consists of a collection of “fans” favorites in the energetic, updated arrangements that have evolved onstage in the years since Alison Brown formed the Quartet. Produced by Garry West, Replay showcases Brown’s penchant for melodic flair. Her sound is both innovative and accessible and in Brown’s hands, her Appalachian instrument takes bluegrass, bebop and Hot Club swing into the stratosphere.
Alison Brown said about her 2005 album Stolen Moments: “For the first time, I feel like I’ve created a true hybrid sound that suggests its influences bluegrass, jazz, Celtic music but when taken as a whole isn’t any one of these things.” Among those playing on the album are bluegrass greats Sam Bush (mandolin) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) as well as Irish maestros John Doyle (guitar) and Seamus Egan (flute), ex-Pretenders and Paul McCartney Band guitarist Robbie McIntosh and long time bandmate John R. Burr (piano). Also featured on the album are guest vocalists the Indigo Girls, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Andrea Zonn.
Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and the University of Colorado Boulder, and served as an Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music.
She is also a reputable record producer. She worked with Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Rowan, Quiles & Cloud, and Claire Lynch.
Simple Pleasures (Vanguard Records, 1990) Twilight Motel (Vanguard Records, 1992) Look Left (Vanguard Records, 1994) Quartet (Vanguard Records, 1996) Out of the Blue (Compass Records, 1998) Fair Weather (Compass Records, 2000) Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard Records, 2002) Replay (Compass Records, 2002) Stolen Moments (Compass Records, 2005) Vanguard Visionaries, compilation (Vanguard Records, 2007) Evergreen (Compass Records, 2008) The Company You Keep (Compass Records, 2009) The Song Of The Banjo (Compass Records, 2015)
Alex de Grassi was born February 13, 1952 in Yokosuka, Japan but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He started music on the trumpet, but at age 13, discovered the guitar and hasn’t looked back.
He studied guitar with noted teacher Bill Thrasher, jazz piano with Mark Levine and composition with William Mathieu. A Grammy Award nominee and Indie Award nominee for The Water Garden, his first recording was Turning: Turning Back, in 1978, for the fledgling Windham Hill Records, and he became one of the most popular artists on the contemporary acoustic label that would become a recording industry phenomenon.
De Grassi has played at such notable venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Belfast International Festival, Telluride, and Wolftrap. In addition to his own workshop series, Alex has taught at the National Summer Guitar Workshop, the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music, and the Omega Institute. He was the subject of a PBS concert/interview television show, and collaborated with Chilean multi-instrumentalist Quique Cruz in the band Tatamonk and with experimental guitarist G.E. Stinson.
Turning: Turning Back (Windham Hill, 1978) Slow Circle (Windham Hill, 1979) Clockwork (Windham Hill, 1981) Southern Exposure (Windham Hill, 1983) Altiplano (RCA/Novus, 1987) Deep at Night (Windham Hill, 1991) A Windham Hill Retrospective (Windham Hill, 1992) The World’s Getting Loud (Windham Hill, 1993) Beyond the Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (EarthBeat, 1996) Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel (Northsound, 1997) Alex de Grassi’s Interpretation of James Taylor (NorthSound, 1998) The Water Garden (Tropo, 1998) Bolivian Blues Bar (Narada, 1999) Tatamonk with Quique Cruz (Tropo, 2000) Shortwave Postcard, with G.E. Stinson (Auditorium, 2001) Now & Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (33rd Street, 2003) Pure Alex de Grassi (Windham Hill, 2006)
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion