Photo credit: Vania Marie Kinard
People: Dom Flemons and Michael Kiwanuka at the Dranouter Festival in Belgium, 2016
Michael Kiwanuka & Inflo were presented the Song of the Year Award for “Black Man in a White World” at Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, MO, 2017.
The halls, hotel lobby, and hotel rooms are alive with the sound of music here at the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference at the Westin Hotel in Kansas City from early every morning to early the following day. Nearly everyone in the elevators, strolling the walkways between hotels, carries a guitar or banjo strapped to his or her back, or carries along a ukulele, fiddle, mandolin, an upright bass, an autoharp, or rolls a small harp. At any moment you can find musicians gathered around in a circle calling out a tune and jamming. In an American culture quickly going to hell in a handbasket, these enduring strains of music foster unity and harmony, offering solace and reminding us that well-played tunes and passionately written lyric continue to tell a story that touches our human spirit. From out of the cacophony of voices in every hall emerges a sweet chorus lifting to the heavens to wonder at the vagaries of love, to ponder the abysmal vagaries of the human character, and to praise the resilience of human nature. This music is all about community, and it’s nowhere more apparent than at this year’s Folk Alliance International.