Americana Music Assn. Forms Foundation with Rhiannon Giddens, Jackson Browne & More on Board

Rhiannon Giddens
David McClister

Rhiannon Giddens

The Americana Music Association has formed a 501c3 educational and charitable organization.

The Americana Music Association Foundation (AMAF) will preserve and educate people about roots music through educational programs, musical performances and public events.

The inaugural board of directors includes Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Brandi Carlile and Rhiannon Giddens.

"For many years we have worked toward creating the Foundation with goals to include archival and educational needs,” the AMA’s executive director Jed Hilly tells Billboard.

Part of the impetus to apply for 501c3 status came after, in partnership with the AMA, Ed Helms and The Bluegrass Situation’s production of an online variety show raised more than $70,000 for MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund this spring. “We realized we had an untapped resource in our Foundation that allowed for us to help,” Hilly says. “That we are launching the Foundation now has sort of come about organically.  It was almost like we didn’t have a choice.”

Part of the preservation effort includes digitalizing unique moments, such as Johnny and June Carter Cash’s last public performance together at the first Americana Honors & Awards.

The Foundation will work with ethnomusicologists to preserve music cultures including those from the rural South, the Texas-Mexico border, Native American songs of the Pacific Northwest and fiddling music of Maine.

The Foundation will include the Thriving Roots Institute, an initiative which brings together artists and educators to address historical precedents, milestones and pathways for artists in the future.

In some ways, Hilly sees the Foundation as the realization of the AMA’s founding council in 1999. “[This] is the true manifestation of what [they] intended 20 years ago,” he says. “To highlight artists we love [and] educate and promote understanding from where our traditions came from—where Americana came from.”

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