American Folk Festival - Aug. 22nd, 23rd, & 24th, 2014
Music, Dance & Culture from Traditions Across America & the World!
American Folk Festival Performers

The American Folk Festival features the traditional arts - music and dance - of the many cultures that make up America today. Traditions that represent the cultural heritage of a region, an ethnic group, a religious group, or an occupation are examples of the genres of music that are featured at the AFF.

2013 American Folk Festival Performers

Sista Monica Parker, "the lioness of the blues," was a 2012 Blues Music Award nominee for "Best Soul Blues Female Artist." She talks about her musical education, "I never knew about Etta James before I started singing the blues in 1991. The first time I heard her I thought 'Wow! She sounds like me.' Ha Ha! Then I used to listen to Etta James all the time until people start comparing our voices. So I stopped back in the mid 90's. I found my own voice!" Sista Monica and her band have performed around the world, with many of the blues greats, including BB King.

Rosie Ledet is an American Zydeco accordion player and singer, and is among the few zydeco artists who still sing and write some of their own material in Creole French. Singing in both French and English, Rosie is known for her songwriting ability, as well as her bluesy, sexy singing voice. In fact, her music has often been described as "blues with an accordion."

Founded over 50 years ago by the late Tommy Ellison, The Legendary Singing Stars remain one of the gospel circuit's biggest names. The Legendary Singing Stars bring a modernization to the gospel sound by adding electrified instruments and a R&B influence to their sanctified music. Their music is an exaltation that both lifts the soul and brings down the house.

Qi Shu Fang began studying Beijing Opera at age four. At 18 she was picked to play a female lead in one of 8 national model operas. Overnight, she became a sensation throughout China. In 1988 Qi Shu Fang moved to New York City, where she formed the Qi Shu Fang Beijing Peking Opera Company. The company's mission is to promote Chinese and Chinese-American culture.

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After performing for the AFF in 2002, Yves Lambert returns in 2013 with Oliver Rondeau and Tommy Gauthier as the Yves Lambert Trio. Together they offer a new Québécois sound with unusual brilliance and a distinctive personality. By revisiting traditional music, this brilliant trio delivers new ideas in unexpected form while carefully preserving the soul of the music.

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The Chankas perform a scissor dance, a traditional Andean ritual bridging a community of people and the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). The dancer holds the two blades of the scissors, in one hand to clap the rhythm while dancing. With 4 performers (2 musicians, 2 dancers), the scissor dance may contain as many as 200 melodies and 300 steps.

The James King Band was named emerging artists of the year by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 1997. Made up of 5 members, the band offers a variety of traditional bluegrass. King enjoys bluegrass because "I think the beauty of bluegrass is that it's music that can reach people on so many different levels" and the James King Band does exactly that.

Samba Mapangala and Orchestra Virunga are considered one of the classic dance bands from the Golden Age of African music. Together this group creates an original mix of the best Congolese rumba and soukous with an earthier Kenyan style, sealed by irresistible rhythms and delightful melodies that make it hard to listen to without dancing.

Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers started in 1955 as one of the pioneers of rock and roll and has/have traveled with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, and many more.  The group was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame In Jackson, TN in 2002. The play the rockabilly music of the 50's the best because they helped create it! 

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Winnie Horan, Mick McAuley and Colm O’Caoimh bring a variety of Irish music that is, soulful, joyful, exhilarating and so much more.  With Winnie’s unmistakable fiddle sound, Mick’s amazing vocal and accordion talents, and Colm’s re-defined guitar accompaniment you will find yourself tapping, swaying and dancing along to this Irish trio.

One of America’s top fiddlers, Frank Ferrel has a knack of attracting top notch musicians to play with him.  Frank has a huge repertoire of tunes and is great at picking and matching for maximum effect.  Frank has become an outstanding performer in several genres, one of them being his own compositions of New England fiddling.

Having conquered the musical hearts of Nepalis, Prem Raja Mahat is now on a mission to captivate worldwide audiences with the timeless magic and charm of the music of the mountains and hills of Nepal.  Mahat’s boundless musical energy and his creative genius are irrepressible.

Jorge Arce and Raiz de Plena will be sharing the Puerto Rican plena tradition as they lead the parade at this year’s festival, as well as take the stage for an energetic salsa set.  Since 1982 Jorge Arce has been sharing the Bomba and Plena traditions through workshops, classes, residencies programs, and performances at schools, festivals, community organizations and universities.

Steeped in the Garifuna tradition, Aurelio Martinez mixes energetic rhythms with virtuosic musicianship and passionate performances to every stage.  Martinez offers a unique take on punta rock, and  the Garifuna roots-infused pop genre.  His performance will bring you to your feet every time.

Mixing Spanish and African traditions, Juvenato Vallenato has created an increasingly popular musical form that is being enjoyed internationally.  The band combines the conventional accordion, the percussive “gaja” and “guacharaca”, as well as bass, timbales, congas and the guitar to create Vallenato masterpieces.

For a list of performers from previous years, click here.