Last week, while much of Nashville was reeling from an early morning tornado, the International Bluegrass Music Association welcomed their 21st class to Leadership Bluegrass. This annual event includes several days of sessions for the class, which IBMA describes as an “intensive, three-day program focused on interactive learning and networking experiences, which invite participants to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the bluegrass music industry, and pursue leadership development.”
The program now boasts over 500 graduates, a list of which reads like a who’s who of bluegrass artists, labels, publicists, management, radio hosts, luthiers, associations, event producers, educators, artists representatives, and entrepreneurs in our industry. Attendees join an elite group of businesspeople who establish long-standing relationships with fellow graduates.
Each year, roughly two dozen participants are chosen in a competitive process from among the many applications received. Those selected are balanced between people new to the industry who want to get a jump start on the biz, those currently working in the bluegrass world, and more experienced leaders with many years already dedicated to the music.
The 2020 class included:
- Jake Blount – Jake Blount / Tui / The Moose Whisperers; Washington, D.C.
- David Brower – PineCone / WUNC; Carrboro, NC
- Thomas Cassell – Circus No. 9; Johnson City, TN
- Ethan Charles – International Bluegrass Music Association; Nashville, TN
- Jennifer Danielson – Pandora; Nashville, TN
- Worth Dixon – D’Addario & Company, Inc.; Farmingdale, NY
- Rick Faris – Special Consensus; Topeka, KA
- Rebecca Frazier – Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run; Nashville, TN
- Greg Garrison – Leftover Salmon / University of Colorado – Denver; Lakewood, CO
- Dave Howard – Louisville Folk School; Louisville, KY
- Fred Knittel – Smithsonian Folkways Recordings; Washington, D.C.
- Marianne Kovatch – Blue Ridge Music Center; Winton-Salem, NC
- Evie Ladin – Evie Ladin Band; Oakland, CA
- Michelle Lee – WOBL / Bluegrass Borderline / Smoked Country Jam; Sheffield Lake, OH
- Ed Leonard – Billy Blue Records; Hendersonville, TN
- Ned Luberecki – Becky Buller Band / SiriusXM; Nashville, TN
- Didier Philippe – La Roche Bluegrass Festival; Etaux, France
- Lauren Price Napier – The Price Sisters; Hyden, KY
- Angela Sommers Rees – Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival; Dorrigo, NSW, Australia
- Brian Swenk – Big Daddy Love / Midwood Entertainment; Glen Allen, VA
- Abi Tapia – Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum; Nashville, TN
- Suzy Thompson – Berkeley Old Time Music Convention; Berkeley, CA
- Amanda Thompson – Frankfort Bluegrass Festival; Mokena, IL
- Roxanne Tromly – Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum / ROMP Fest; Owensboro, KY
- Natalya Zoe Weinstein – Zoe & Cloyd / Warren Wilson College; Fairview, NC
- Benjamin Wright – Henhouse Prowlers / Bluegrass Ambassadors; Chicago, IL
Long time broadcaster, Katy Daley, who took part more than a decade ago, says that she still attends graduate events hosted by IBMA, and stays in touch with friends she has made through the program.
“Leadership Bluegrass really gave me a full overview of the music, the business, and the community. Found out quickly there was a lot more to it than just the path I was following. Best part was networking with the people in my class and ALL the other graduates. Highly recommend it. I’m part of the 2008 Class (‘best class ever!’).”
We join the IBMA in congratulating the 2020 class.
More details on Leadership Bluegrass can be found online.