2018 Conference in Review

The 2018 conference broke attendance records for the fourth straight year as we celebrated FAI’s 30th anniversary. With 2,855 attendees (including 1,109 first-timers!) from 35 countries, our event continues to be the largest folk family gathering in the world.

Over five days at the Westin Crown Center, together we experienced hundreds of curated programs and events and literally thousands of performances (including 180 Official Showcases).

We are as strong as the company we keep and we are inspired by the growth of this community and the tremendous warmth felt during our week-long family gathering of artists, entrepreneurs, executives, and folk music fans. We especially say THANK YOU to the 231 volunteers who donated 4,389 hours to assist in the production of the conference. It would not be possible without them.

Click here to view the full 2018 post-conference report. Looking for press clips or photos? Visit our Media Room.

Guest Speakers

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter addressed gender politics, ageism, and standards of beauty in the music industry in her keynote presentation. Carpenter spoke candidly about navigating difficult realities and shared how despite it all, she still finds joy and connection in the creative process.

Fairport Convention co-founder Richard Thompson interviewed by Steve Winick at 2018 Folk Alliance International Conference.
Photo by Kim Reed

Feature Interview: Richard Thompson

Fairport Convention co-founder Richard Thompson was interviewed by Steve Winick of the American Folklife Center in front of a packed crowd in the panoramic Benton’s room.

Artist in Residence

The 2018 Artist in Residence program connected Korean-American artist Henry Nam with students and instructors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Math and Statistics Department and the Kansas City Art Institute. Together they collaborated on a project which explored the connection between music, sound, mathematics, and art. The team developed a computer program that created a visualization of a live percussive instrumental guitar performance by utilizing an MYO armband to track muscle movement and colors assigned to sound frequency data.

International Folk Music Awards

The 2018 International Folk Music Awards show at the Folly Theater, presented in partnership with Folk Music Canada, featured performances and appearances by Ruthie Foster, John Oates, Guy Davis, Giri and Uma Peters, The Kingston Trio, Anaïs Mitchell, and a rousing finale from Kansas City’s Staley Falcon Chorale. If you weren’t able to join the nearly 900 attendees, you can catch the full recording here.

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

  • Living: Peter, Paul and Mary
  • Legacy: Richie Havens
  • Business/Academic: Elektra Records

Best of Award Winners

  • Album of the Year: Freedom Highway by Rhiannon Giddens
  • Song of the Year: “You Didn’t Call My Name” by Molly Tuttle
  • Artist of the Year: Ordinary Elephant

The Clearwater Award Recipient

  • Winnipeg Folk Festival

Spirit of Folk Award Recipients

  • Anaïs Mitchell
  • Betsy Siggins
  • Kristian Blak
  • Martyn Joseph
  • Richard Gillmann

Folk DJ Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Dick Pleasants
  • Fiona Ritchie
  • Mary Cliff

The People’s Voice Award Recipient

  • Bonnie Raitt
International Folk Music Awards presented at the 2018 Folk Music International Conference with Guy Davis.
Photo by Todd Zimmer
Photo by Neale Eckstein
Folk Alliance International CommUNITY Gathering: Addressing Harassment and Discrimination in the Music Industry
Photo by Jake Jacobson

CommUNITY Gathering: Addressing Harassment and Discrimination in the Music Industry

The second annual FAI CommUNITY Gathering, entitled Addressing Harassment and Discrimination in the Music Industry, echoed the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements and re-doubled ongoing efforts to proactively embed the values of diversity, inclusion, and social equity in all FAI programs. For the 2018 event, FAI partnered with MOCSA and The DB Approach to provide a helpful bystander training entitled, “A Leadership Moment: Creating a Community Free of Violence.” In addition, FAI’s advocacy committee created a Committing to a Safe Music Community pledge and resource document, which can be found here.

Program Book

Private Showcase Guide