Leadership Bluegrass report from Donna Ulisse

IBMA’s 2010 Leadership Bluegrass class has recently concluded, and we will be posting comments from some of the participants, as we have done in the past.

Each year 25 participants are selected from those who apply for this 3-day workshop in Nashville that focuses on the business aspects of the bluegrass world. An emphasis is placed on developing future leaders in our industry through an interactive examination of the challenges and opportunities facing the music. Fred Bartenstein was the facilitator for this, the 11th edition of the event, which ran from March 9-11.

Donna Ulisse was among the 2010 class, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts about the experience.

“I have to tell you folks…I haven’t caught my breath yet. I went through one of the most intense three days OF MY LIFE last week. There was so much important information shared about every single aspect of the music business in such a short time that it will take me the rest of the year to process all that I learned.

Day one I walked into a room at the lovely BMI building here in Nashville filled with 25 jittery folks from all over; Australia, Ireland, Canada and different States in our country. I think the common thought was that none of us knew what to expect. We went from zero to a hundred miles an hour in the first four minutes of the conference and never let up until we were limping out of there at the end of day three.

We learned about so many exciting new ways to get bluegrass to the masses. There were marketing ideas, promoting ideas, thoughts about how to book acts, ways to manage acts, what a press person does, how a festival works, how radio programs the new music and honors the older music, how the internet and social medias are helping our genre, how songwriters get paid, how record companies earn dollars, and who wouldn’t give their right arm to sit in a room and hear Doyle Lawson speak about his personal musical journey. I’m leaving out a million things but trust me, it was all so valuable.

For me personally, I came away realizing how much I live in the creative world, writing songs, recording and singing. I would like to think I don’t keep my head in the sand about the nuts and bolts of this business but until my three day experience in Leadership Bluegrass I didn’t realize I AM living in a sandcastle! It made me grateful to have the support of my record label and publishing company to keep the water from washing my little sandcastle away!

I encourage all IBMA members out there that are trying to work in this business to submit an application for next year’s class. It’s an important opportunity to learn a wealth of knowledge from the real experts in music.”

Look for Donna’s new Gospel CD, Holy Waters, soon from Hadley Music Group.

The folks pictured in the group photo above are: Row 1, L-R: Gretchen Priest-May, Carol Beaugard, Joan Kornblith, Jess Norburg, Megan Brugger, Lachlan Davidson; Row 2: Jean Spivey, Jessica Smith, Andrew Stokes, Chris Keenan, Doris Gray; Row 3: Denis Chadbourn, Kissy Black, Thad Keim, Patty Mitchell, William Lewis; Row 4: Karl Cooler, Avery Ellisman, Gary Reid, Linda Bonner, Phil Bankester; Row 5: Jennifer Larson, Donna Ulisse, Thomas Brown, Michael Ramsey (photo by Nancy Cardwell).

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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.