Roots and Branches

Like a thick-trunked tree, roots music has many branches. At its simplest, though, it candidly confronts the hardships and realities of life — experiences that transcend cultures.  Read on to explore just some of the incredible artists in our lineup who are drawing inspiration and nourishment from the roots that connect us.

Sam Amidon

Born into a musical family from the hills of southern Vermont, Sam Amidon seamlessly merges contemporary and traditional elements to create a distinctive and original brand of folk.

Jake Blount

A powerfully gifted musician and a scholar of Black American music, Jake Blount speaks ardently about the African roots of the banjo and the subtle, yet profound, ways African Americans have shaped and defined the amorphous categories of roots music and Americana.

Robin Holcomb

Many artists have mined the vast repertoire of early American music, but few with such originality, poetic vision, and utterly unique harmonic language as composer, pianist, and vocalist Robin Holcomb.

Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla is a Haitian-American multi-instrumentalist based in New Orleans. Her music vibrates with three centuries of history, sonically blending New Orleans influences and traditional Haitian rhythms on cello, banjo, and guitar, with lyrics sung in English, French, and Haitian Kreyol.

Joanna Sternberg

Effortlessly weaving elements of folk, jazz, and blues into their soulful compositions, Joanna Sternberg captivates listeners with their unique musical storytelling and expressive voice.

Big Ears Roots & Branches Playlist

We curated a playlist featuring all the brilliant roots musicians joining us for our 2024 Festival. We can’t wait for you to catch them live!

Roots and Branches Reading

We’ve also curated a selection of readings for a deeper dive into our featured roots artists.

Sam Amidon Is A New Purveyor of Age-old Traditions

“Meet the musician teaching the banjo’s African roots”

Robin Holcomb revisits old and new on One Way or Another Vol. 1

“‘We’ve been offered a myopic view of history’: folk singer Leyla McCalla untangles Haiti’s complex roots”

“Joanna Sternberg Walks Us Through Their Reflective New Album I’ve Got Me

Knoxville, TN · USA



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