Sisters Folk Festival Presents 12th Annual Americana Song Academy for Youth & Celebration of Song

(Photo | Courtesy of Sisters Folk Festival)

On Sunday, March 3, there will be a free public concert at The Belfry at 7pm, entitled Celebration of Song. The concert is the culmination of the weekend-long Americana Song Academy for Youth, a program developed and produced by Sisters Folk Festival. Celebration of Song features aspiring young artists presenting original music in a concert setting with their peers and professional mentors in the music industry. There will be high school student performers from many Central Oregon communities, including Bend, Redmond, Madras and Sisters. Doors open at 6:30pm.

March 1-3, Sisters Folk Festival is hosting its 12th annual Americana Song Academy for Youth (ASAY). ASAY is an inspiring weekend of music, songwriting and community-building through music. The Academy is produced by Sisters Folk Festival, and sponsored by Cris Converse.

In 2008, Sisters Folk Festival brought high school students together for the first time for a song-writing and music camp that emulated the adult-focused Americana Song Academy held prior to the Sisters Folk Festival each September. The opportunity to build community among youth from different schools was championed by Brad Tisdel, Sisters Folk Festival’s creative director. “Young people gathering to celebrate one another’s musical talent is special and unique, and the students’ confidence and courage to be authentic and share their self-expression and musical gifts with the world grows exponentially throughout the weekend,” says Tisdel.

The teaching artist/instructors include: Sisters Folk Festival veterans Jeffrey Martin, Anna Tivel, and Haley Heynderickx; regional artists Mosley Wotta (MOWO), Brent Alan, Shireen Amini, Patrick Pearsall, and Sisters natives and Americana Project alumni Slater Smith and Benji Nagel. Additional folks from communities that have had Americana Project programming will also attend to share their experience, including Ian Carrick from Bend, and Elias Appenzeller from Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The camp and music teachers Rick Johnson (Sisters), Lilli Worona (Madras), and Vince Gianinni (Redmond) foster a community-building tone which permeates the weekend. The instructors and mentors support the learning and performances by young artists.

Slater Smith, of the band The Weather Machine, will be the director for the camp this year, having attended Sisters High School, the Americana Project and many of the past ASAY camps. “I’m absolutely honored and beyond excited to be helping run the 2019 Song Academy for Youth. The Americana Project changed my life when I was growing up, and it’s so encouraging to see Sisters Folk Festival sustaining its commitment to fostering creativity, community and confidence for its young people year after year through music,” say Smith.

“We felt the need to pass on the director role to Slater Smith to keep a younger vibe, one that represents a youthful approach to music, as the industry is constantly changing and evolving. We intend to provide some classes on songwriting and lyrics, but also a cappella singing and electronic music, and are encouraging all music students, band, choir, jazz band, and Americana Project to come together to create music of their own,” says Tisdel

The Academy brings young people together in a non-competitive format to cultivate musicianship, songwriting and creativity. “High school students are constantly competing with other schools and their peers; this is an opportunity to consciously break down those barriers, and create an environment of pure support… wherever their skills and experience lie, they have something to contribute that is authentic, and their talent is showcased and valued,” says Tisdel. Classes include poetry and lyric-writing, performing, singing, guitar-playing and a private concert performance on Saturday evening.

The Song Academy for Youth is held primarily at The Belfry in Sisters, as well as additional locations throughout downtown Sisters. For registration information contact Kelley Moen, education program manager, at 541-549-4979 ext. 6 or

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