We’ve just launched the Americana Music Association Foundation (AMAF), a new educational and charitable organization dedicated to preserving Americana music’s past and future.

What is the Americana Music Association Foundation?

This new entity was born out of a need to preserve and educate people on the beloved art form we know today as Americana music, which includes the rich threads of country, folk, blues, soul, bluegrass, gospel and rock in our tapestry.

As an Association, our mission is to advocate for the authentic voice of American roots music around the world. Part of that mission is the responsibility to foster the genre’s growth long after we all leave this planet. With that in mind, we want this Foundation to educate not only today’s generation but also future generations on the music that’s resonated with us and soundtracked our lives as an indelible piece of our culture. We aim to accomplish this through educational programs and live events with some great music, of course.

So I’m quite sure that many of you have been asking yourselves, where has old Gary Hayes been? Well my friends, this year has been a pivotal one for EVERYONE, including me. Family issues and medical issues both weighed heavily on me so far in 2020, but I have overcame every obstacle in my path. I’m now on the upside of catching up on things around the music realms, including this The Americana Music Association.

I have HUNDREDS of albums to catch up on, as well as news issues all over the many worlds of music we cover on this website. The Americanafest community in Nashville is one of my favorites, because during that week I learn a LOT through the many informational panels they offer.

See, while many others are busy meddling with arguing on social media and writing about Kane Brown getting lost on his property….I am studying and refining myself with knowledge to beat them at their own game. I spend so many hours reading and fact checking what I want to bring you, that I have very little time for facebook political banter.

These two projects here truly intrigued me in every way, because it encompasses so many types of bands I enjoy and feature on here. This foundation will steamroll into 2021 with all types of educational programs like the forthcoming Thriving Roots Music Conference in September. This conference will transpire in 2020 in lieu of the informational panels we would normally have during the festival week.


Launched in 2020, this new entity was born out of a need to preserve and educate people on the beloved art form we know today as Americana music, which includes the rich threads of country, folk, blues, soul, bluegrass, gospel and rock in our tapestry. We want the foundation to educate not only today’s generation but also future generations on the music that’s resonated with us and soundtracked our lives as an indelible piece of our culture. We aim to accomplish this through educational programs and live events with some great music, of course.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 8, 2020) — Today, The Americana Music Association has announced the creation of the Americana Music Association Foundation (AMAF), a 501(c)(3) educational and charitable organization. As American culture is traveling through a period of tumult and uncertainty, the Foundation seeks to provide musical healing, by preserving and educating the world about the rich cultural treasure buried in the roots music of this country, which includes the threads of blues, bluegrass, country, folk, rock and gospel that make up the Americana tapestry

The Foundation has set out to accomplish this mission through educational programs, musical performances and public events. Throughout the year, its work will focus on the preservation of past legacies and traditions that spotlight Americana music’s heritage while looking ahead to ensuring the future of the genre for generations to come.

The AMAF was set up to be nimble. In recent weeks, it has quietly launched its efforts to raise funds, beginning in partnership with Ed Helms’ and The Bluegrass Situation’s production of “Whiskey Sour Happy Hour” this spring. The online variety show garnered more than $75,000 in donations to the MusiCares® COVID 19 Relief Fund and Direct Relief, which provides PPE to medical professionals on the front line. The Association will continue to mine its own Americana archives to raise funds for various causes.

The primary focus of the educational aspects of the Foundation’s work will include producing the Thriving Roots Institute, an initiative bringing together artists and educators to address historical precedents, milestones and pathways for artists in the future. The Foundation will be making a major announcement for additional plans this month.

The AMAF is committed to the Americana Archival project to preserve the history of this American art form by digitizing unique moments in time, like Johnny and June Carter Cash’s last public performance together at the first annual Americana Honors & Awards, just months before his passing.

The Foundation will work with the existing academic community of ethnomusicologists helping fund new fieldwork to preserve music cultures from the rural South to the Texas-Mexico border, and from the Native American songs of the Pacific Northwest to the folk-fiddling music of Maine.

The Americana Music Association Foundation inaugural Board of Directors includes: Lori Badgett, Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens, Garth Fundis, Dennis Lord (Chair), JD May (Vice Chair), Mark Moffatt, Jonathan Taplin and Kurt Vitolo.

Now, I want to take the time to share with you the Thriving Roots Music Conference news for this year. As you know Americanafest is more about community and networking than anything else.

There will be over 50 different conversations and meetings to enrich whatever your particular interest is within the realms of the entertainment industry. I am especially salivating over the one with Mr. Ken Burns, where he will be commenting on his documentary one year later.

Join us for three days of industry insight + unforgettable connections. We’re beyond excited to tell you about Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference, an online experience coming your way Sept. 16-18, 2020.

Presented by the Americana Music Association Foundation, Thriving Roots is a brand new event with almost 100 online sessions that go beyond today’s webinar-style virtual conferences.

Hear from industry experts + trendsetting artists
With live engaging panels, you’ll have a front-row seat to insight you won’t find anywhere else. We’re going to be bringing you today’s top industry leaders and artists for intimate conversations on music, culture and everything in between.

Experience music through entertaining special events

Give your mind some time to unwind in between panels and let loose a little. Our industry friends will invite you into their own world for some great music and quality virtual hangs from the comfort of your own home.

Create lasting relationships wherever you are in the world
On the Thriving Roots platform, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with one another by creating your own attendee profile, browsing our attendee directory, private messaging and even starting an open discussion on our forum. If you want to talk shop with other attendees, simply schedule one-on-one virtual meetings. You can also check out our live exhibit hall filled with friends of the music community.

Before Thriving Roots begins on September 16, you’ll be able to create your attendee profile and customize your own daily schedule. If you end up missing something on your schedule, don’t sweat it – you’ll be able to access our content after the conference ends.

Learn from these game-changing musicians
Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Mavis Staples, Jackson Browne, Rhiannon Giddens and T Bone Burnett are trailblazers who’ve carved their own place in the music world. You’ll get to hear inspiring talks from these musicians.And we’re just getting started. Stay tuned to find out who else is going to be a part of Thriving Roots this fall.Get your pass today
A limited number of passes at our Early Bird rate are now on sale for $99. Once those sell out, passes will increase to $149, so don’t wait. Buy yours below today.


Judd Apatow + The Avett Brothers
Join them for a conversation on the intersection of film and music, as well as the fine line between fine art and commerce.

Bob Weir + Oteil Burbridge
These two stellar musicians will look at the inspirations and influence Black musicians have had on the Grateful Dead.

Sarah Jarosz + John Leventhal + Chris Thile
Moderated by Chris, Sarah and John will delve into the connection between the artist and producer that’s most recently showcased on her latest album, “World On The Ground.”

Sierra Hull + Béla Fleck
Join these genre envelope-pushers for “Music Without Boundaries,” a talk on how roots music transcends and connects with a wide range of audiences around the world.
+ talks on empowering creatives, streaming and the road to recovery
  • Get an inside look at how Americana industry pros are empowering their artists to retain creative control and the benefits of assembling a hand-picked team during “Independent Control: The Power of Collaboration.”
  • “Building a Streaming Strategy in 2020” will show artists and pros how to optimize today’s digital resources with real-world strategies that lead to growing listenership and a solid fanbase.
  • Join Phil Bogard, Jaime Wyatt and more for “The Show Must Go On: Musicians in Recovery,” a talk about the road to recovery, how to find treatment and practical steps on becoming a sober creator.
  • AMERICANAFEST fan-favorite panel “Songlines Music Meeting” is going virtual this year, once again inviting attendees to listen to mostly unreleased music and score songs live during this engaging session.
Kick back with a guided meditation + some rockin’ tunes
  • Learn to find your center with Valerie June as she walks attendees through a guided meditation using ancient teachings.
  • Catch The Cadillac Three, Sheryl Crow and Ray Wylie Hubbard during Big Machine Label Group’s music break.
  • “Aw Heck: An Oh Boy Music Break” will give you a front-row seat to performances by Tré Burt, Arlo McKinley, Dan Reeder and Kelsey Waldon.
  • Experience the rich roots of North Carolina during “Come Hear NC,” a musical spotlight on Hiss Golden Messenger, Jim Lauderdale, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers and more.
Stay tuned for even more updates from us. Grab your pass below today!
Buy Your Thriving Roots Pass


Check Out the Full Schedule
Like what you see? Be sure to buy your pass so you can begin making your own schedule when we launch our Thriving Roots platform next week.
Music, comedy and insightful talks
The Milk Carton Kids’ “Sad Song Comedy Hour” with Lucinda Williams
Join The Milk Carton Kids for a special edition of their residency as they sit down for a conversation and must-see performance with Lucinda.
Price Points: Talking Artistic Values with Margo Price
Get to know how the outspoken singer-songwriter has channeled her own values and voice into her music, statements and more during a conversation with music critic and NPR Music Contributor Jewly Hight.
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