First Performer Details Announced for 76th National Folk Festival

The National Folk Festival announced today the first group of artists who will be performing in downtown Greensboro from September 9 – 11, 2016. The 76th National Folk Festival in 2016 marks the event’s second year of its three-year residency in Greensboro.

Last fall, the 75th National Folk Festival attracted more than 102,000 attendees to downtown Greensboro for the FREE, three-day weekend. Based on survey data, organizers expect attendance to grow substantially in 2016—by as much as 30% or more. “Audience response was overwhelmingly clear: the Festival was a big hit!” said Tom Philion, President and CEO of ArtsGreensboro, one of the co-producers of the Festival, along with the National Council for the Traditional Arts. “Remarkably, 98 – 100% of survey respondents said they would be back in 2016. That’s a great predictor of strong attendance for the next Festival.”

Approximately 300 artists—musicians, dancers, storytellers, and craftspeople—will take part in the National Folk Festival, with more than 30 different musical groups performing on as many as seven outdoor performance venues throughout downtown Greensboro. The nine artists announced today include:

  • Balsam Range – Bluegrass: All the members of this bluegrass supergroup grew up—and still live—in Haywood County, N.C. Their fourth album, Papertown, was the 2013 IBMA Album of the Year.
  • Clinton Fearon & the Boogie Brown Band – Reggae: Clinton Fearon has been bringing roots reggae music to audiences worldwide for more than four decades, founding his first band as a teenager in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1969.
  • DJ Grandmaster Flash – Hip Hop: Born in Barbados and raised in the Bronx, Grandmaster Flash combined his electrical engineering studies with his love of music and his fascination with his father’s record collection. A living legend of hip hop and the creator of many of the genre’s technical innovations, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
  • Leonardo Sandoval – Tap: Combining tap with traditional Brazilian rhythms found in bossa nova, samba, and forró (a genre that originated in northeastern Brazil in the 19th century), Sandoval is paving new ground in a traditional North American art form.
  • Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati CanoMariachi: This Los Angeles-based ensemble is considered by many to be the finest mariachi group in the world, raising both the artistic standards and public perceptions of this art form, which is recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • NathalieFado: Meaning “fate” or “destiny,” fado is arguably the world’s oldest urban folk music, emerging from the bustling cafés of Portugal in the early-19th Born and raised in Perth Amboy, N.J., Nathalie was recognized as the 2015 Fado Singer of the Year by the International Portuguese Music Association.
  • The Quebe Sisters – Texas Fiddling & Western Swing: When sisters Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe (rhymes with “maybe”) fiddle and sing their vintage-style three-part harmony, it’s as if the Andrews Sisters are joining up with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys in musical heaven.
  • Super Chikan & the Fighting Cocks – Delta Blues: James “Super Chikan” Johnson plays guitars he makes himself, using whatever materials are at hand—from gas cans to ceiling fans. Super Chickan and his all-female band, the Fighting Cocks, are Morgan Freeman’s “all-time favorite” and perform regularly at Freeman’s Ground Zero blues club in Clarksdale, Miss.
  • The Alt – Irish: Three masters of Irish music—guitarist John Doyle; singer and flute-player Nuala Kennedy; and singer and guitar- and bouzouki-player Eamon O’Leary—have come together to celebrate the songs and spirit at the core of the tradition.

Over 40 people of different backgrounds—and with a deep knowledge of traditional music and art forms—came together from across North Carolina to serve as the local Festival Programming Advisory Committee. This committee’s role is to consider—and help the National Council for the Traditional Arts select—the artists who will perform at the National Folk Festival each year.

“We’re delighted to be bringing an entirely new group of outstanding performers to North Carolina for the 76th National Folk Festival,” said Julia Olin, Executive Director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. “The cultural traditions of our nation are so rich, deep, and diverse, and there’s so much cultural territory to cover, that the festival never repeats artists from year to year. As always, though, each and every one of them is among the most exceptional practitioners of his or her artistic tradition.”

To learn more about these artists and their stories, please visit The National Folk Festival will feature individual artists on its Facebook page ( and on social media (#NCFolkFest) throughout the rest of February.

More performers will be announced as they are confirmed.