Event Unapologetically Celebrates Black Contributions to Roots Music

FORT WORTH, Texas – On March 18, 2023, award-winning artists from across the country will convene at the third annual Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival (FWAAMFest). This live music event is the only major city festival in the nation focused on the genres of old-time, jug band, early blues and jazz music that is Black led and showcases Black performers.

Produced by Decolonizing the Music Room, a nonprofit that works to center Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian voices in music education and related fields, FWAAMFest will be hosted at Fort Worth’s historic Southside Preservation Hall from noon-10 p.m.

“Black musicians have been there since the beginning of this music, yet there is little to no representation in the large music festivals that cater to this genre,” said Brandi Waller-Pace, Founder and Executive Director of Decolonizing the Music Room. “We aim to change that.”

Headliners at FWAAMFest include Tray Wellington, Jake Blount and Jackie Venson. 

Tray Wellington (https://traywellington.com/) was recognized as the 2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year and Momentum Band of the Year (with Cane Mill Road). he has played with some of the most accomplished musicians in the world. In 2019, Wellington recorded his first EP, Uncaged Thoughts, which was recorded, and co-produced by banjo legend Scott Vestal. In 2020, he signed to Mountain Home Music Company, where he recently released his first full length solo album, Black Banjo.

Jake Blount (https://jakeblount.com/about) returns to FWAAMFest for the second year, hot off the heels of his critically acclaimed and groundbreaking album released in September, The New Faith. An award-winning musician and scholar, Blount is a 2020 recipient of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize and a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival. A specialist in the early folk music of Black Americans, Blount is a skilled performer of spirituals, blues and string band repertoire. He has performed at the Kennedy Center and the Newport Folk Festival, and has presented his scholarly work at museums and universities including the Smithsonian Institution, Berklee College of Music and Yale University. 

Jackie Venson (https://jackievenson.com/), born and raised in Austin, Texas, joins the festival’s trio of top talent. She has traveled the world performing as a headliner and as support for major acts such as Gary Clark Jr., Melissa Ethridge, Aloe Blacc and Citizen of Cope. Venson has released 2 studio albums, 2 live albums and several electronic albums. Her music is heavily blues-infused. Behind three live albums and three studio albums, Venson delivers a magnetic stage set from slow grooves, to Princely throwbacks and tasty blues rockers.  Her newest her new studio album, Evolution of Joy, is out now.

Event organizer Waller-Pace has been able to attract high caliber musicians to perform at FWAAMFest because they share her vision and commitment to expand awareness about the integral place of blackness in American roots music. The sound of old-time music is considered by many to be quintessentially American, yet the extensive Black influence – from the creation of the banjo and fiddle traditions to the roots of social dances performed alongside the music – is not widely acknowledged. FWAAMFest aims to change that.

Other acts and presenters confirmed to-date include: 

Hubby Jenkins – http://www.hubbyjenkins.com/

Justin Golden – https://www.facebook.com/JustinGoldenMusic 

Justin Robinson – https://www.fwaamusicfest.com/artistJunious 

Junious Brickhouse – https://www.fwaamusicfest.com/artist

Joseph Johnson

Angela Wellman

Sable Sisters 

FWAAMFest premiered online in 2021. Today, the live event places Fort Worth in the vanguard bringing awareness to the oft-forgotten presence of blackness in this piece of America’s musical history.

“The 2022 festival showed how valuable and engaging this kind of event can be, for local community members and for welcoming new visitors to Fort Worth,” said Waller-Pace. “FWAAMFest is contributing to a more inclusive local music scene, and there is excitement about hearing amazing artists while also learning about the music and culture.” 

FWAAMFest contributes to the musical renaissance that is taking shape in Fort Worth. Record labels, artists, and music lovers are increasingly taking note of the city and becoming familiar with its sounds. FWAAMFest is quickly becoming a landmark event for the traditional music community. 

Sponsors of FWAAMFest 2023 confirmed-to-date include Elderly Instruments, Ear Trumpet Labs, Shiny Box Pictures, Saintsville Cathedral, The Bluegrass Situation, Tufara Waller Muhammad and Dutale’ Artist Collective, and Carpenter’s Cafe & Catering. FWAAMFest is supported in part by a grant from Arts Fort Worth, The City of Fort Worth, and the Texas Commission on the Arts, and a grant from the International Bluegrass Music Association Foundation. FWAAMFest is facilitated in partnership with Southside Preservation Association and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $50 per-person for adults, $30 for students and educators (with ID), and $15 for children ages 3-13, and include access to all scheduled performances. More information can be found at www.fwaamusicfest.com.


About Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival

Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival (FWAAMFest) is the only major-city festival in the nation focused on blackness in early American roots music forms (including styles such as old-time, jug band, string band, early blues, and jazz) that is Black-led and Black-centered. It is a program of Decolonizing the Music Room, a nonprofit based in Fort Worth, Texas. The festival was created to broaden the local music scene and put the city on the map among traditional music circles, bringing awareness to blackness in American roots music. FWAAMFest debuted online in 2021. 

About Decolonizing the Music Room

Decolonizing the Music Room centers Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian voices in music education and related fields by providing training and free educational content to pre-service and practicing educators, and creating community programming for people of all ages. Through its work it aims to build a more equitable future. Decolonizing the Music Room was founded by Brandi Waller-Pace in 2019.