Americana Association Adds Brandi Carlile, Yola, Ken Burns, Emmylou Harris and Others to ‘Thriving Roots’ Conference

Jackson Browne and Mavis Staples are also slated for a conversation at the September confab.

Yola and Brandi Carlile
Chris Willman / Variety

The Americana Music Association Foundation has rolled out an initial lineup for its online “Thriving Roots” conference in September, including several “intimate conversations” between stars of roots-based music or, in the case of Ken Burns, one of their equally famous chroniclers.

Burns will be joined by Emmylou Harris for “Country Music: One Year Later,” a look back at the documentarian’s celebrated eight-part series. Brandi Carlile and Yola, who have sung together as the British singer has sat in with Carlile’s Highwomen, will sit down for an exploration of both their creative and career journeys, described as a look at “experiencing ‘overnight success’ after years of hard work, as well as representation, advocacy and staying true to your art.”

Two previously announced participants, Mavis Staples and Jackson Browne, will also be teaming up for an online conversation, with the subject yet to be announced.

Other newly revealed participants in “Thriving Roots” include Black Pumas, recent Grammy nominees for best new artist, who will be “part of a case study that takes a look at business challenges and decisions faced by a developing artist in today’s music landscape”; Mary Gauthier, who’ll lead a songwriting workshop followed by a performance; and Taj Mahal, whose panel will “delve into how music is a balm for the soul.”

Other panels with guests thus far unannounced range from “Music as a Rallying Cry,” about the current hot-button topic of the use of songs in political campaigns, and a discussion about a different type of campaign that’s of interest to musicians, “The Anatomy of a Publicity Campaign.”

“Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference” takes place Sept. 16-18 and sits in virtually for what would have been the annual Americana Music Festival the same week. Other previously announced participants include Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, T Bone Burnett and John Leventhal. The full agenda, which is expected to include 50 panels or discussions and more than 40 musical events, will be unveiled in late August. Early-bird passes for the three-day confab at the $99 rate are available here.

One live event that would normally be part of the Americana Music Association’s live conference, its annual “awards and honors” program, is still slated to take place from the stage of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on September 16, although whether any audience will be on hand for the webcast won’t be established till closer to the date.

For Variety‘s interview with Americana Music Association executive director Jed Hilly about what went into founding the “Thriving Roots” conference this year, read here.