Artist in Residence Program

In 2015, Folk Alliance International launched an annual Artist in Residence (AIR) pilot to develop partnerships, foster cultural cross-pollination, and nurture artistic growth. To see past AIR programs, please visit:

We have two Artists in Residence for 2017: Topeka Prision Project - Blues Behind Bars, and Poetic Justice - Brown Eyes in Blue.

Topeka Prision Project - Blues Behind Bars

  Friday, Feb. 17, 12pm in Century C (prior to Ani DiFranco's special presentation)

PROJECT: a choral ensemble of inmates at the Topeka Correctional Institute rehearses and performs under the direction of an acclaimed blues artist.

ARTIST: Rita Chiarelli

PARTICIPANTS: Rex Pryor (poet and retired Warden), Shannon Meyer (Warden: Topeka Correctional Facility), Inmates of the Topeka Correctional Facility

Rita Chiarelli is an acclaimed award-winning Italian-Canadian blues musician, and a gifted performing songwriter with a soaring three-octave voice. Over the past five years she has released Cuore, a recording of traditional Italian folk songs, which won the World Music category at the prestigious Canadian Folk Music Awards; Uptown Goes Downtown Tonight, a highly acclaimed collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; and Music From the Big House, a documentary movie filmed in Louisiana, at Angola prison, which premiered in New York and LA.

Poetic Justice - Brown Eyes in Blue

  Saturday, Feb. 18, 4pm in Century C (prior to Billy Bragg's keynote)

PROJECT: a performance collaboration between an emerging band and police of cer/poet to create a soundscape based performance piece.

ARTISTS: Making Movies, Chato Villalobos

PARTICIPANTS: Rex Pryor (poet and retired Warden), Sam Cline (Warden: Lansing Correctional Facility)

Octavio “Chato” Villalobos is a celebrated 16-year veteran police officer with the KCPD. His pioneering work in community policing with the Westside Community Action Network has landed him praise and recognition with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Also a writer, his poem “Brown Eyes in Blue” addresses the complex feelings and sometimes conflicting roles of being a hispanic officer during a contentious era of law enforcement’s relationship with minority communities. In 2016, his poem was recited in a public reading by Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino poet laureate of the United States.

Making Movies is a Kansas City-based band founded by Panama-born brothers Enrique and Diego Chi, joined by brothers Juan-Carlos and Andres Chaurand. The band’s sound is based in Afro-cumbia rhythm, and their rich lyrical content is both poetic and political with the combined soundscape an effort to manifest the beautiful reality of a new America. Their sophomore album "I Am Another You" (produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos) will be released in 2017.

Mission Statement

The mission of Folk Alliance International is to nurture, engage, and empower the international folk music community - traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional - through education, advocacy and performance.

Additional Conference Events

2017 FAI Conference

DATE: February 15-19, 2017

LOCATION: Westin Crown Center Hotel, Kansas City, MO, USA