RALEIGH — The International Bluegrass Music Association says 25 million Americans claim bluegrass as one of their favorite styles of music. That preference extends worldwide, with artists and fans from as far off as Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Russia and Japan.
Much credit for the musics popularity rests with IBMA, the professional trade organization having its World of Bluegrass this week in Raleigh.
Founded in 1985, IBMA supports all segments of the industry in a common quest for commercial and artistic success.
(IBMA) has been a force to unite the members of the bluegrass community so that we can speak as one voice, said IBMAExecutive Director Nancy Cardwell. There are certain things we can accomplish as a group better than we can individually.
IBMAs triumphs include promoting artists, such as Alison Krauss and North Carolinas Steep Canyon Rangers, in their campaigns for Grammy awards. The organization successfully lobbied Billboard magazine to add a bluegrass music sales chart. And through IBMA, artists have access to affordable health, liability and instrument insurance.
With more than 2,500 members from all 50 states and 30 countries, IBMA is open to anyone with an interest in bluegrass music. Members include artists, fans, promoters, journalists, publicists and agents.
The public face of IBMA centers on this week, with its awards, trade show, talent showcases and Wide Open Bluegrass Festival.
A trust fund, supported by one-half of the proceeds from the week, provides financial assistance to uninsured and underinsured musicians, helping them with medical expenses.
But IBMA operates year-round. It holds monthly webinars and Leadership Bluegrass, a networking and educational program designed to promote and strengthen bluegrass in local communities. It administers the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky., sponsoring outreach programs and honoring the history of bluegrass and its pioneers.
Cardwell points to IBMAs Bluegrass in the Schools program as one of its proudest achievements.
If you ask anyone in IBMA about young people playing bluegrass, they get very excited about it, Cardwell says. Were all about passing the torch to the next generation. We care about the future of this music.