This fourth-annual festival on the lovely banks of the Shenandoah River will feature bluegrass, old time, and eclectic Americana music while focusing on the heritage and health of one of Virginia’s most scenic rivers. The festival will feature workshops and an educational river float. Stay tuned for more information on the lineup.
The Virginia Folklife Program has once again partnered with Sherpherd’s Ford Productions to bring outstanding performers to the River & Roots Festival. The Virginia Folklife Program supports the Sherman Holmes Project and the Legendary Ingramettes.
On July 21, Sherman Holmes will release his first solo recording in his more than fifty-year career. The Richmond Sessions by the Sherman Holmes Project carries on the spirit of the revered Holmes Brothers by reimagining songs and making them their own. Produced by the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the record will be released by M.C. Records and this performance at River & Roots kicks off the album’s tour.
Sherman Holmes’ solo debut The Richmond Sessions can’t help being a milestone: it’s the esteemed singer and bassist’s first recording since the passing of his brother and musical partners in the Holmes Brothers, Wendell Holmes and Popsy Dixon, both in 2015. But his solo debut, dedicated to the memories of Wendell and Popsy, is no somber affair. The blend of bluegrass, gritty rock ‘n’ roll, and joyful gospel will be familiar to Holmes Brothers fans. And with some of his strongest vocals to date, the album demonstrates that Sherman is still an artist in his prime.
Long beloved in the roots music world and beyond, the Holmes Brothers formed as a group in 1979, though the members had all been playing for decades by then. Sherman played behind the likes of Jerry Butler and John Lee Hooker in the early 1960s. The Brothers didn’t make an album together until In the Spirit in 1980, but word spread fast after that. Their fans were as diverse as Peter Gabriel (who not only signed them to his Real World label but had them back him on solo tracks) and Bill Clinton who had them play a presidential gala. They racked up numerous blues music awards and did further guest shots with Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, and Odetta. After their last album together—Brotherhood in 2014—they were honored with a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the government bestows upon traditional artists.
The Legendary Ingramettes
For more than five decades, the Legendary Ingramettes have been thrilling audiences with their scintillating music and ministry across the tidewater and mid-Atlantic regions. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances make this group one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles, and Richmond, Virginia’s undisputed First Family of Gospel.
Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Ingramettes founder Maggie Ingram (1930-2015) worked in the cotton and tobacco fields with her parents. She began playing the piano and singing at an early age, and developed a great love for the church and the ministry of the Gospel. She formed Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, a family singing group that became sought after for appearances throughout Florida. In 1961 Maggie moved her family to Richmond, where they began to perform and record, and where she initiated a prison ministry.
Now led by the powerful voices of Maggie’s daughter, Reverend Almeta-Ingram Miller, and her granddaughter, Cheryl Maroney-Beaver, the Legendary Ingramettes have not missed a beat, and have performed at prestigious venues and festivals across the country. The group appears on The Richmond Sessions, a new album by National Heritage Fellow and lifelong member of the Holmes Brothers, Sherman Holmes.
The Ingramettes have received numerous awards, including the prestigious Virginia Heritage Award in 2009. Maggie Ingram was awarded a doctor of music degree from Virginia Triumphant College and Seminary in 2011. The Virginia Folklife Program-produced recording Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes: Live in Richmond received the Independent Music Awards fan’s choice award for Gospel Album of the Year in 2012.