The Gift of Music

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I love music – listening to it, playing it, and seeing others receive the joy it brings. And giving the gift of music to others is a joy and delight. In 2011, I was fortunate to become a board member of the Foundation for Bluegrass Music. Let me tell you about this worthy organization that many a bluegrasser doesn’t know exists, let alone about the wonderful things it accomplishes. The Foundation makes is possible for more bluegrass music to be given to others. It gives the gift of music.

Back in 2006, Dick Barnhart of Virginia, who was just your average picker, passed away. He loved bluegrass music and in his generosity left a sizeable legacy (approximately $250,000) to IBMA. It was his wish for this legacy to be used for bluegrass educational purposes. This was a bit of conundrum since IBMA is a 501c6 organization and is not set up to accept charitable donations which are earmarked for certain purposes. So, with the assistance of Dan Hays, then IBMA Executive Director, the Foundation for Bluegrass Music was formed in 2007 as a 501c3 charitable non-profit organization with the goals to award grants to worthy bluegrass educational endeavors.

Today the Foundation has a nine-member rotating board of directors that meet throughout the year to plan our fundraising events, annual grant awards, Bluegrass in the Schools (BGIS) funding, etc. Including myself, the current board members are Kitsy Kukendall (chair), Rick Spratt, Peter D’Addarrio, Mark Panfil, Tim Stafford, Henri Deschamps, Peter Salovey, and Stephanie Taylor. And just recently Carl Pagter retired from two terms on this board. Some other past board members include Greg Cahill, Richard Tucker, Tom Kopp, and Jed Malischke, and Mary Doub.

The formation of the Foundation enabled IBMA to transfer their Bluegrass in the Schools program to the Foundation so critical funding for that program could continue. Over the years, tens of thousands of young children have benefitted from the BGIS program as it primarily assists bands going into schools to educate children about bluegrass music.

The Foundation’s mission is the following: “The Foundation for Bluegrass Music invests in the future of bluegrass music and its community by connecting passion with purpose.” As an example, the Foundation hosts an After Awards Party each year at the World of Bluegrass Music at various locations such as the Hard Rock Café when we were in Nashville, and this year at Tir Na Nog in Raleigh, NC. All funds raised go toward our annual grant giving and BGIS programs.

Samples of past grant winners include – “Acoustic Sound’s Wintergrass Youth Academy” that educates area youth about bluegrass music during Wintergrass and also in the K-12 school music program in Bellevue, WA; the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation to assist production of Fanning the Fire video; Gaston School of Arts with “The Bluegrass Project: An Introduction to Bluegrass Music” that introduces youth to a series of workshops, hands-on interactions and a performance opportunity in Gaston County, North Carolina; “Guitars in the Classroom” in Clay County, West Virginia, where teachers are supported with guitars and lessons to bring music into the classrooms of this struggling community. Click here to see their inspiring video on that project.

In 2013, The Freight & Salvage also received a grant to assist the “Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music” program. In 2012, Molly Tuttle received a grant for tuition assistance to Berkelee School of Music in Boston. And the Munich Bluegrass Friends received a grant for a luegrass education program at their bluegrass festival in Munich, Germany.

And news flash…We are very proud to announce Tom Kopp as the new Executive Director for the organization. The Foundation will be in great hands with Tom’s leadership and vision. Please visit the Foundation’s web site by clicking here to read more about the its work and Tom in a great article appearing in IBMA’s December newsletter.

In this gift giving time of year, please consider giving a tax deductible donation of any amount on line at the Foundation website at It is a way to insure that we can continue to give the gift of music to inspiring bluegrass efforts. And while you are at the website, make sure you see the short video on the home page that features our own Molly Tuttle! She is an excellent example of how California continues to makes is mark in the bluegrass community. I hope you will learn more about the Foundation for Bluegrass Music and perhaps help with a donation in whatever way you can.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and happy tunes in the New Year! Expect to hear more about the Foundation for Bluegrass Music in 2014.
They bring Joy IN the World.

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