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77th National Folk Festival announces initial performer lineup

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The National Folk Festival has announced the first group of artists who will be performing in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, from Sept. 8 – 10, 2017. The 77th National Folk Festival in 2017 marks the event’s third and final year of its three-year residency in North Carolina’s Piedmont. Organizers report that based on the success of the National Folk Festival, a feasibility study is currently underway toward launching a legacy North Carolina Folk Festival in 2018.

In fall 2016, the 76th National Folk Festival attracted more than 138,000 attendees to downtown Greensboro for the FREE, three-day weekend. “In just two years, we’ve watched the National Folk Festival grow to become one of North Carolina’s largest annual events,” said Tom Philion, president and CEO of ArtsGreensboro, which co-produces the event. “We are excited about what this third year will bring, as we look at creating a permanent legacy festival here for North Carolinians and the region.”

Approximately 300 artists—musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople—will take part in the National Folk Festival 2017, with more than 30 different musical groups performing on as many as seven outdoor performance venues throughout downtown Greensboro. The eight initial artists are:

  • Dale Ann Bradley – Bluegrass: Five-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award, Dale Ann Bradley is acknowledged as one of bluegrass music’s greatest singers.
  • Feedel Band – Ethiojazz: classic Ethiojazz marries traditional Ethiopian pentatonic melodies and rhythms with the jazz, funk, and soul sounds of African American artists like Benny Carter and Maceo Parker.
  • Marshall Ford Swing Band – Western swing: With their classic “hot fiddling” and “rhythmic syncopation mixed with playful vocals,” the Marshall Ford Swing Band has been called “the perfect Austin, Texas musical experience.”
  • Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac – Cape Breton singling and fiddling: Lamond and MacIsaac thrill listeners with “a delicate balance between…the melancholy of Gaelic song and the joy of fiddle music.”
  • Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY – Traditional Sri Lankan dance: from Staten Island’s vibrant Sri Lankan community, this group is introducing American audiences to the intricate footwork and the acrobatic leaps of Kandyan dance.
  • The Beat[box] Goes On: Rahzel, Nicole Paris and Ed Cage – Beatboxing: The head-turning vocal abilities of Rahzel, Nicole Paris and Ed Cage have redefined the possibilities of human voice. Born in New York City’s working-class African American communities in the late 1970s, beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion considered the “fifth element” of hip hop culture.
  • The Fairfield Four – African American gospel quartet singing: The Fairfield Four is the most distinguished traditional African American a cappella gospel quartet working today, celebrating 96 years of bringing the gospel message to audiences worldwide.
  • Tremé Brass Band – New Orleans brass band: Central to the musical traditions of New Orleans are the African American brass bands that play for traditional funerals and street parades. Among the most beloved is the Tremé Brass Band, known internationally through their recordings and tours as well as their role in Spike Lee’s Katrina documentary When the Levee Breaks.

According to the website, more than 40 people of different backgrounds—and with a deep knowledge of traditional music and art forms—came together from across North Carolina to serve as the local Festival Programming Advisory Committee. This committee’s role is to consider—and help the National Council for the Traditional Arts select—the artists who will perform at the National Folk Festival each year.

“It’s really stimulating to work with such an engaged and knowledgeable local committee. Once again, we’ve created an entirely new lineup of outstanding performers from across our nation. ,” said Julia Olin, Executive Director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. “It will be a glorious weekend of music, song and dance of dizzying variety, and so much more – with some surprises, too.” ”

To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit The National Folk Festival will feature individual artists on its Facebook page (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( throughout the rest of February.

More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.

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