Muscle Shoals, Alabama-based country-folk duo Secret Sisters formed in the late 2000s around the talents of siblings Lydia and Laura Rogers. Combining effortless harmonies and a shared love of country music’s rich history, the sisters honed their talents wherever they could, eventually catching the ear of legendary producer/songwriter T-Bone Burnett. Burnett was so impressed that he created a label (Beladroit) for the sole purpose of releasing the Rogers’ eponymous debut. Recorded with a team of iconic Nashville session players on period ’50s equipment, Secret Sisters arrived on October 12, 2010. The duo also released a single on Jack White’s Third Man Records, which featured My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel on pedal steel and White on guitar. Burnett also produced the sisters’ second album, 2014’s Put Your Needle Down, updating the sound by a decade or so with folky garage rock and girl group touches. In 2017 the sisters issued their third LP, the Brandi Carlile-produced You Don’t Own Me Anymore.
Artist Sponsor: Sheila P. Smith
Maria Muldaur may be best known for her mega-hit “Midnight at the Oasis” – which enshrined her forever in the hearts of Baby Boomers everywhere – but she has continued to make innumerable contributions to the American Roots Music scene. Maria has toured extensively worldwide and has recorded an incredible 40 solo albums receiving six Grammy nominations involving all kinds of music including Blues, Gospel, R&B, Jazz, Big Band, and Children’s. Her blues albums have received multiple nominations by the Blues Foundation for Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Traditional Female Blues Artist. Maria’s many collaborations include recordings with the “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” featuring Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Jane Fonda, Odetta, and Phoebe Snow and her other critically acclaimed works include projects with Ruthie Foster, Koko Taylor, Rory Block, Del Rey, David Bromberg, and Alvin Youngblood Hart (appearing here December 7). Her album Steady Love reached #1 on the Living Blues Chart and is what Maria calls “Bluesiana Music” – her own brand of New Orleans-flavored Blues, R&B and “Swamp Funk,” that she loves to perform.
Artist Sponsor: David & Caron Roberts
Nominated for a 2016 Emerging Artist Award with IBMA and the 2013 winners of IBMA Momentum Awards for Performance Band and Vocalist of the Year (Robert Greer), Hard-Drivin’ Carolina String Band Town Mountain has earned raves for their in-house songwriting and a honky-tonk edge that permeates their exhilarating live performances. The members of Town Mountain are Robert Greer on vocals and guitar, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, Jack Devereux on fiddle, and Adam Chaffins on bass.
Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger, Asheville-based Town Mountain released their 5th studio album, Southern Crescent, on April 1, 2016. Since it’s release the band has debuted at the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, bringing their sound to new audiences. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart while staying for ten weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart’s Top 40.
Grammy-Winner Alvin Youngblood Hart is known as one of the world’s foremost practitioners of country blues. He is also known as a faithful torchbearer for the 1960s and 1970s guitar rock of his youth, as well as Western Swing and vintage country. His music has been compared to a list of diverse artists ranging from Lead Belly, Spade Cooley to acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo and sometimes the mandolin. Bluesman Taj Mahal once said about Hart: “The boy has got thunder in his hands.” Hart himself said, “I guess my big break came when I opened for Taj Mahal for four nights at Yoshi’s.”
His debut album Big Mama’s Door came out in 1996. In 2003, Hart’s album Down in the Alley was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. In 2005, Hart received a Grammy Award for his contribution to Beautiful Dreamer – The Songs of Stephen Foster.
Few are more conscious in their journey through Appalachian histories and the Canadian musical landscape than Kaia Kater. Born in Montreal, Kaia has lived Winnipeg, Wakefield Quebec and, most recently, West Virginia, she now resides in Toronto. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone, CBC Music and The Roots Music Report. Often praised for her capacity to sound new and old at once, Kaia anchors her music the space where tradition and innovation intersect.