IBMA Foundation announces 2024 Arnold Shultz grants

Arnold Shultz; Arnold Shultz with Pendleton Vandiver

The IBMA Foundation, the educational and philanthropic outreach of the International Bluegrass Music Association, has announced the 2024 grants from their Arnold Shultz Fund, awarded each year in honor of the Kentucky blues musician, Shultz, whose influence on the young Bill Monroe is believed to have put the blues in bluegrass. In addition to his influence on Bill, Arnold gave the young Monroe his first paid gig as a professional musician.

The Fund was established and the grants given with an eye toward furthering an increase in the participation of people of color in bluegrass music.

Dr. Richard Brown, who serves as co-chair of the Arnold Shultz Fund advisory committee with Neil Rosenberg, says that they are grateful that continuing financial commitments allow them to make these awards each year.

“We’re proud to announce a continuing pattern of strong support for Arnold Shultz Fund grants in 2024. The Shultz Fund committee has awarded over $70,000 in grants since the program began in 2020, plus an additional $10,000 in each of the past two years for the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, which came from proceeds from the annual Pisgah Banjo Company fundraising raffle.

The IBMA Foundation seeks to offer a proactive, helping hand to individuals who come from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the bluegrass community,. Bluegrass music belongs to everyone who wants to listen to it or play it. We are grateful to donors who continue to support the Arnold Shultz Fund and all the other Foundation initiatives. Their generosity has made it possible to award grants to these very deserving musicians and program organizers.”

The IBMA Foundation has shared these brief descriptions of the 2024 Arnold Shultz Fund grant recipients:

  • The Banjo Gathering, Black string band sessions (Raleigh, NC) – Four to six educational sessions will be produced for the 2024 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Business Conference by Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History author Kristina Gaddy and Lillian Werbin, in collaboration with IBMA’s Education Committee.
  • Big Bend Bluegrass Association, Bluegrass for Kids program (Alpine, TX) – A bluegrass presentation for students will spark interest in learning to play stringed instruments, utilizing the “Play It Forward” instrument lending program from the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. The student population in Alpine is primarily Hispanic.
  • Center for Cultural Vibrancy, Baltimore Old Time Music Festival: Africa to Appalachia program (Baltimore, MD) – Cultural and educational programming at the festival will highlight the role of African music and instruments in the old-time music and dance communities locally and beyond.
  • Dancing with the Spirit, young native leaders bluegrass teacher training (Fairbanks, AK) – A Shultz grant will help fund assistant instructor training and travel for young native musicians who will be taking over as future bluegrass instructors in remote Alaskan villages for Dancing with the Spirit. Twenty-eight weeklong camps were held in 2023.
  • Decolonizing the Music Room, Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival (Ft. Worth, TX) – This event highlights the central role of blackness in early American music and features award-winning artists and scholars from across North America who gather for a day of music, jamming, learning, and dancing.
  • Miranda Dozier, banjo building (St. Louis, MO) –A Shultz grant will be used to enroll Miranda in a luthier school so she can build ceremonial banjos for her performances and community. Dozier is an African American banjo player who plays two-finger, clawhammer, and some Scruggs style banjo at spiritual and healing ceremonies.
  • Elephant Grass Musical Chairs, bluegrass presentations at Kenyan schools (Nairobi, Kenya) – Two concerts by the Elephant Grass Musical Chairs bluegrass band, led by Tom Wolf and two Kenyan fiddlers, to be held at the Tafaria Castle Arts & Music Centre for School Children will be funded by a Shultz grant.
  • Aaron Farris, Bluegrass in the Rock (Mabelville, AR) – A grant will help fund the bluegrass afterschool program at Chicot Elementary & Early Childhood Center near Little Rock, with a high percentage of Hispanic and African American students. Aaron is a Korean American music teacher at Chicot.
  • Yndiana Montes Fogelquist, documentary/academic presentation on Joe Troop’s Latingrass (“Venezuelachia”) (Boone, NC) – A Shultz grant will help with travel expenses and equipment to conduct field interviews with Joe Troop in Durham, NC while on tour. Projected finish date: end of 2024. Yndiana is a Venezuelan American journalist working on a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University.
  • Himalayan Highway, recording project (Nepal) – A Shultz grant will support recording for a debut EP from this contemporary acoustic string band based in Kathmandu. The band formed when bluegrass mandolinist Zoe Levitt met fourth-generation sarangi (Nepali fiddle) player Prince Nepali in 2022. With Anish Tamang (guitar) and Yuson Maharjan (Nepali percussion), Himalayan Highway explores the similarities between Nepali Folk music and bluegrass. The band recently hosted Nepal’s first Bluegrass Festival and was featured in the Kathmandu Post.
  • Jam Pak Blues ‘N’ Grass Neighborhood Band, Bluegrass Summer Camp with JamPak (Chandler, AZ) – Shultz funds will be used for instructor stipends, which will include at least 10 people of color, daily snacks, and three dinners for 30-40 participants. The camp will take place in a low-income neighborhood where the majority of youth participating will be African American or Hispanic. Camp admission is free to students.
  • Joseph Z. Johnson, gourd banjo (Bloomington, IN) – Johnson is an African-American musician working on his doctorate in ethnomusicology and folklore. A grant will help purchase a Pete Ross gourd banjo for Johnson to use in teaching with the Black Banjo/Fiddle Fellowship at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music and also to support his dissertation research and presentations on the black banjo revival and the relationship between banjo teachers, builders, and the black origins of the instrument.
  • Kaia Kater, Sable Sisters EP (Ft. Worth, TX) – Shultz funds will be used to record, mix, and master five original songs for release in early 2025. The acclaimed roots duo includes Grenadian-Canadian artist Kaia Kater and black American artist Brandi Waller-Pace.  
  • KSUT Radio, Four Corners Folk Festival (Pagosa Springs, CO) – An Arnold Shultz grant will help with production and talent expenses for a folk/bluegrass/Americana festival committed to racial and gender equity on stage. Four Corners presents at least one Indigenous performer per festival. KSUT Radio, producer of the event, is owned by the Southern Ute Tribe, whose headquarters are in Ignacio, Colorado.
  • Louisville Folk School, bluegrass guitar group lessons (Louisville, KY) – An eight-week bluegrass guitar program for ten students will be hosted at the Americana Community Center as a part of the summer youth program. A diverse neighborhood will be served, including children of immigrants and refugees. The goal is to increase class diversity at Louisville Folk School by expanding to the new location.
  • The Rhapsody Project, instruction in bluegrass and roots music (Seattle, WA) – A Shultz Fund grant will support free music instruction provided through the organization’s Unbroken Circle program, serving youth at the new Rhapsody Workshop at King Street Station in Seattle. The instrument library, venue, listening room, and luthier space is used to host potlucks, concerts, workshops, and programs that connect professional musicians and mentors with youth of many cultures. 

Grant request deadlines are at the end of January in each new year, though support can be available for eligible programs during the year. Donations to the Arnold Shultz Fund can be made at any time, as either one time contributions or recurring donations.

Find full details online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.