May 18, 2021

Together again! First Six Artists Announced for 80th National Folk Festival


The first six performers have been announced for the 80th National Folk Festival. The festival returns to Downtown Salisbury September 10-12, 2021, with performances, special family and Maryland folklife programming, diverse food and beverage offerings, and more—all presented free to the public on three outdoor stages. This year’s event will mark the celebration of the 80th National Folk Festival as well as the third year of the National’s residency in Salisbury.

“These artists hint at the extraordinary diversity of cultural traditions that will be featured at this year’s National Folk Festival—the event’s 80th anniversary—and each represents the highest level of achievement and excellence,” said Lora Bottinelli, NCTA Executive Director. “There are no repeats from 2018 or 2019, and it’s all free!”

A wide variety of artists, dancers, storytellers, and tradition bearers will take part in the National Folk Festival. From a forward-thinking bluegrass legend who has expanded musical boundaries to the reigning Queen of Chicago blues and the keeper of a West African tradition nearly a millennium old, this is a collection of artists befitting the 80th National Folk Festival, the nation’s oldest multicultural celebration of traditional arts.

The National Folk Festival strives to present the nation’s very finest traditional artists. Music and dance traditions from every part of the country are represented—blues, rockabilly, gospel, jazz, polka, tamburitza, cowboy, bluegrass, klezmer, R&B, old-time, Cajun, rhythm and blues, mariachi, beatbox, breakin’, western swing, honky-tonk, and zydeco, as well as traditional music and dance from Native American, Celtic, Acadian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Asian, Appalachian, Latino, Eastern European, African, and Pacific Island cultures, among others. The six artists announced today include:

Balla Kouyaté & Famoro Dioubaté (Boston, Massachusetts, and New York, New York) – balafon masters
Two masters of the ancient West African balafon explore new musical terrain together, treating audiences to heights of virtuosity and the thrill of the unexpected.

The Del McCoury Band (Nashville, Tennessee) – bluegrass
Both an icon of bluegrass music’s past and architect of its future, this visionary “high lonesome” tenor keeps it in the family with his adventurous, eponymous band.

Grupo Rebolú (Queens, New York) – Colombian
The foremost Afro-Colombian ensemble in the United States plays the rich, rhythmic, and undeniably danceable music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Savoy Family Cajun Band (Eunice, Louisiana) – Cajun
One of Cajun music’s most recognizable families shares an infectious passion for their culture, from accordion-driven house party two-steps to timeless French ballads and twin fiddles.

Shemekia Copeland (Chicago, Illinois) – blues
Schooled in the blues by her Texas bluesman father, this powerhouse singer is heir to the rich tradition of blues divas blazed by such greats as Ruth Brown, Etta James, and Koko Taylor.

Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY (Staten Island, New York) – traditional Sri Lankan dance
Staten Island’s vibrant Sri Lankan community is home to this accomplished ensemble that is introducing the nation to the fascinating traditions of Kandyan dance.

The National Folk Festival will feature individual artists on Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram ( throughout the next month.

More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.

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