Tending the roots of American Music



Music Maker meets the day-to-day needs of the artists who create traditional American music, ensures their voices are heard, and gives all people access to our nation’s hidden musical treasures.

What We Do



Grants to our partner musicians help them keep roofs over their heads, food on their tables, instruments in their hands, and help them weather crises.


We book our artists’ performances—everywhere from venues in their hometowns to stages around the world—and provide them with CDs to sell in their communities.


We create books, release recordings, and curate exhibitions that tour museums across the United States, creating cultural equity for our partner artists.

Meet the Artist & Discover the Music

Guitar Gabriel


A search for this elusive bluesman gave birth to the Music Maker Foundation. Gabe said he could “do more with a guitar than a monkey can do with a peanut,” and the first time Eric Clapton heard him, the response was simply, “Oh, my God.”

Discover “Hanging Tree Guitars”


Sculptor and art guitar maker Freeman Vines’ revelatory “Hanging Tree Guitars” project — now an acclaimed book and exhibition featured on NPR and in Rolling Stone — reveals an unspoken American history and gives voice to those silenced.

Etta Baker


Etta was an extraordinarily sophisticated, highly lyrical, and ultimately extremely influential guitar player. She rarely sang and told us she didn’t need to. Her guitar, she told us, spoke for her.

John Dee Holeman's Hands, Hillsboro, NC 2015

Discover the Piedmont Blues


How did a culture that influenced the likes of Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, and the White Stripes stay hidden for so long? Learn about the Piedmont style and why its culture is alive and well today.



Photo by Tim Duffy.

Robert Lee Coleman


Playing behind Percy Sledge and James Brown, Robert Lee Coleman became a pioneer of two wonderful American music genres: soul and funk.

Discover the Sacred Soul of North Carolina


The jubilee quartet style has roots going back to the 17th century — and branches into life in the 21st. This music influenced the formation of rock ’n’ roll, soul, and rhythm & blues.



Photo by Zoe van Buren.

The Invisible Man: Hermon Hitson Might Be the Greatest Guitar Player You’ve Never Heard Of


Cathead Distillery Honors Captain Luke in Its Old Soul Bourbon Series