US: Bluegrass Pride Presents ‘Fireside Pride’

Leyla McCalla – Image: newmusicusa.org

Bluegrass Pride Presents ‘Fireside Pride’ Holiday-themed Streaming Celebration On December 5th

Performers include Ani DiFranco & Zoe Boekbinder, Leyla McCalla, Mary Gauthier & Jaimee Harris, and more
As the cold, grey winter months set in, LGBTQ+ roots music non-profit Bluegrass Pride is gearing up to stoke the fire and warm the cider with Fireside Pride, an online, winter-and-holiday-themed celebration. Hosted by emcee, Marlene Twitty-Fargo, and featuring performances by Ani DiFranco & Zoe Boekbinder, Leyla McCalla, Mary Gauthier, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Stephanie Anne Johnson, and a non-religious holiday sing-along, led by Nate Lee, Fireside Pride will bring all parts of the BGP community together on December 5th, beginning at 3pm PST, and running until 6:30pm PST. A full schedule can be found below.

The event can be streamed via the Bluegrass Pride Website, their Facebookpage, or their YouTube channel. Admission to the party can be accessed in the form of a suggested donation of $10, but a statement from BGP reads: “If you’re a part of the Bluegrass Pride family, or if you’re just here to enjoy the show, we’re suggesting a $10 donation. But, if you’re able, please give generously – and consider giving to Bluegrass Pride monthly as we continue to support artists and our community all year round!”
Earlier this year, in the fresh wake of the pandemic, Bluegrass Pride found itself in the same position as many of the talented musicians with whom they work; facing the cancellation of an entire season of events. They said goodbye to their San Francisco Pride float and marching armada, the annual Bluegrass Pride Concert that follows the parade each year, their annual Portland events, and their inaugural Nashville celebration, too. But BGP wasn’t satisfied with an empty calendar and a clean slate, without events, gatherings, and music. Furthermore, they understood that LGBTQ+ and Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian musicians and creators have been disproportionately impacted by the economic devastation of the pandemic, so BGP knew they had to adapt their mission to meet folks wherever they’re at during this time.
In June, Bluegrass Pride carried off their first ever Porch Pride: A Bluegrass Pride Queer-antine Festival, a digital program featuring more than 10 hours of live music over what would have been Pride weekend, and raised over $22,000 for their artists. BGP also pivoted their annual LGBTQ+ Musicians Showcase online during IBMA’s Virtual World of Bluegrass, featuring five acts of bluegrass, folk, and old-time from around the world during the conference. And, in October, they began a monthly livestream series that features creators and artists from the Bluegrass Pride family.
“Time and again, our audience has shown up for Bluegrass Pride and our mission, despite all of the barriers thrown our way by 2020!” say Executive Director Kara Kundert.
“We’re asking you to show up again for our musicians and our community. Musicians know how hard the winter months can be, when opportunities dry up seasonally, as the weather changes – and this year, flu season and returning indoors will inevitably increase COVID transmission and close off more gig and work opportunities for artists. Now is such an important time to give!!”
All profits from Fireside Pride will be shared evenly between the artists playing the festival and Bluegrass Pride. BGP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation; these funds will go towards supporting their ongoing, year-round operations, allowing BGP to continue hosting paid performance opportunities for artists during these uncertain times, while also investing in long-term resources that will benefit both musicians and fans beyond the pandemic (such as the forthcoming Safe Venue Directory), helping to create a safer, more inclusive bluegrass community for all.
“Thank you for your continued support!” the organisation adds.
“Whether you’re a Bluegrass Pride veteran, a chance passerby, a longtime donor, or a curious newbie, we’re so pleased to have you as part of Bluegrass Pride. We hope you enjoy Fireside Pride (safely!) with your friends, loved ones, and families and we cannot thank you enough for helping to spread the word about Bluegrass Pride, Fireside Pride, and the important work of making bluegrass a place for everyone.”
When: December 5, 3:00pm – 6:30pm PST
Who: Ani DiFranco & Zoe Boekbinder, Leyla McCalla, Mary Gauthier & Jaimee Harris, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Stephanie Anne Johnson, and a Holiday Sing-Along with Nate Lee. Presented by Bluegrass Pride, hosted by Marlene Twitty-Fargo.
[Ed’s note: Central European Time (CET) is 9 hours ahead of PST – e.g. 3pm PST = 12 midnight CET)
Full schedule (in PST):
3:00 PM Holiday Sing-Along with Nate Lee
3:30 PM Stephanie Anne Johnson
4:00 PM AJ Lee & Blue Summit
4:30 PM Mary Gauthier & Jaimee Harris
5:00 PM Leyla McCalla
5:30 PM Ani DiFranco & Zoe Boekbinder
Artists include:
Zoe Boekbinder & Ani DiFranco: Widely considered a feminist icon, Grammy winner Ani DiFranco (she/her) is the mother of the DIY movement, being one of the first artists to create her own record label in 1990. While she has been known as the “Little Folksinger,” her music has embraced punk, funk, hip hop, jazz, soul, electronica, and even more distant sounds. As an iconic songwriter and social activist, she has been the inspiration for woman artists and entrepreneurs for over two decades. She has been featured on the covers of SPIN, Ms., Relix, High Times, and many others for her music and activism.
Ani has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Grammy, the Woman of Courage Award from the National Organization for Women, the Gay/Lesbian American Music Award for Female Artist of the Year, and the Woody Guthrie Award. At the 2013 Winnipeg Folk Festival, she received their prestigious Artistic Achievement Award and an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg. In 2017, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from A2IM (a nonprofit trade organization that represents independent record labels) and the Outstanding Achievement for Global Activism Award from A Global Friendship.
Zoe Boekbinder (they/them) was born on an Ontario farm into a family of four children. While music wasn’t very present in their upbringing, Boekbinder recalls some of their first memories as making up songs. Boekbinder’s music career began when they formed a band, with their sister Kim Boekbinder, called Vermillion Lies. Over the five years that they played together, they released two albums. 2009 saw the release of Boekbinder’s first solo album, Artichoke Perfume, recorded with friend and producer, Cesar Alvarez, in Brooklyn, NY. They went on to release two more albums, as well as 100 songs in 100 days in the midst of 2013, before their most recent release, Shadow (2018), which was both bravely political and deeply personal.
Boekbinder continues using their music as a vehicle to bring light to stories and voices otherwise unheard, lost or forgotten. Based out of New Orleans, LA, they perform both as a solo artist and in collaborations with empowering artists including Ani DiFranco, Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, Neil Gaiman, Mal Blum, and Mirah.
Leyla McCalla (she/her): Leyla McCalla is a New York-born Haitian-American living in New Orleans, who sings in French, Haitian Creole and English, and plays cello, tenor banjo, and guitar. Deeply influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun, and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk, her music is at once earthy, elegant, soulful, and witty — it vibrates with three centuries of history, yet also feels strikingly fresh, distinctive, and contemporary.
Leyla McCalla’s Vari-Colored Songs is a celebration of the complexity of Black culture and identity, and a tribute to the legacy of poet and thinker Langston Hughes. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, McCalla sets Hughes’ poems to her own spare yet profound compositions. She juxtaposes these with arrangements of folk songs from Haiti, the first independent Black nation and the homeland of her parents, tapping into the nuances of Black experience. McCalla’s music elegantly weaves Haitian influences together with American folk music, just as Hughes incorporated Black vernacular into his remarkable poetry and the way the Haitian Kreyòl is a beacon for the survival of African identity through the brutal legacy of colonialism. This is music of reclamation, imbued with a quiet power that grapples with the immense weight of history.
Mary Gauthier & Jaimee Harris: Mary Gauthier (she/her) is a singer-songwriter, an author, and a songwriting teacher. She travels the world as a troubadour and lives in Nashville, TN. Gauthier’s first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal, profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March 11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which the singer finally understands she is deserving of love. Maybe that’s where the confessional song cycle ends, for she has mid-wifed these eleven new songs in careful collaboration with other souls whose struggle is urgent, immediate, and palpable. And none are about her. Each song on Rifles & Rosary Beads is a gut punch: deceptively simple and emotionally complex. From the opening “Soldiering On” (“What saves you in the battle/Can kill you at home”) to “Bullet Holes in the Sky” (“They thank me for my service/And wave their little flags/They genuflect on Sundays/And yes, they’d send us back”), while “Iraq” depicts the helpless horror of a female military mechanic being dehumanized and sexually harassed by fellow soldiers.
Jaimee Harris (she/her) is poised to become the next queen of Americana-Folk, a slightly edgier Emmylou Harris for the younger generation. Her debut album, Red Rescue, draws comparisons to Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, and Kathleen Edwards – all writers who know how to craft a heartbreakingly beautiful song with just enough grit to keep you enthralled. Harris writes about the basic human experience in a way that is simple, poetic, and often painfully relatable. Harris’s talent has impressed artists and critics alike. Jimmy LaFave deemed her his “new favorite” and Peter Blackstock of the Austin-American Statesman called her “one of Austin’s most promising young singer-songwriters.”

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