Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Bluegrass Music!

Out gay bluegrass artist Sam Gleaves (photo credit Susi Lawson, from

Please check out all the links in this blog!

Bluegrass Music – is considered a form of American roots music with its own roots in English, Irish and Scottish traditional music. … Inspired by immigrants from the British Isles (particularly the Scots-Irish immigrants of Appalachia), as well as the music of rural African-Americans, jazz, and blues.

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As a business oriented diversity consultant, most of my work is within the workplace setting. However, I am always pleased to discover and support activities in all areas of life that promote diversity and inclusion of all people. We need to see increased diversity and inclusion across all aspects of daily life – work, sports, education, politics and indeed in the arts including music.

One wonderful expression of diversity in music is the upcoming second annual “Shout and Shine: A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass” being held in Raleigh, NC on Tuesday evening September 26, 2017. (Link to complete details.) Each artist and production member was carefully chosen to celebrate diversity within the bluegrass and roots community. These diverse musical artists include:

African-American Bluegrass Band “The Ebony Hillbillies” (photo courtesy

• Tyler Williams Band, whose lead singer was born with cerebral palsy and was blind from an early age
• Sam Gleaves, an openly gay musician from rural Virginia (link to a very touching song “Ain’t We Brothers.”)
• The Ebony Hillbillies, a prominent African-American string band
• The Otsuka & Watanabe Brothers’ Japanese Jam which shows how Bluegrass music is now appreciated worldwide.

So how did this innovate celebration come to be? It was born in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” which discriminated and stigmatized our state’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) citizens. (see my blog about the effects of HB2.) There were a variety of performance artist’s reactions to HB2 from several boycotts to Cyndi Lauper who came to town and specifically engaged with the community on this issue (See my blog – “Don’t Boycott Us, Cyndi Lauper-rize Us” about her proactive actions.)

It is now fantastic to see another organization, “The Bluegrass Situation,” making this positive move of involving its entire community to oppose discrimination and fight for a fully inclusive society where all people are welcomed and valued.

Please do come out on Tuesday night September 26 to support a diverse community and to enjoy some outstanding and diverse Bluegrass music!