Tending the roots of American Music


Sol Roots, Guitar Gabriel

Music Maker is a 501(c)(3) that 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

Hermon Hitson


Hermon Hitson’s guitar playing is funk, soul and psychedelic rock magically rolled into one. He comes by it honestly, having played with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack and Wilson Pickett.

Fred Thomas


One of the originators of funk music, playing bass with James Brown & The JB’s for 3 1/2 decades, longtime New Yorker Fred Thomas has now stepped up to the mic himself.

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.

Lena Mae Perry & the Branchettes


Lena Mae Perry, Ethel Elliott, and Mary Ellen Bennett formed the Branchettes almost by accident. But their old-time gospel sound touched hearts around the world

Shelton Powe


Shelton Powe was far into his adulthood before he finally went back to revisit the gospel and blues songs played by his family, but now, he’s a celebrated keeper of the Piedmont blues tradition.

Leonard “Lowdown” Brown


Leonard “Lowdown” Brown is an electric guitar-slinging blues legend in the Houston music scene. His virtuosic fingerwork and formidable voice seem effortless, evidence of his raw talent and over four decades of dedication to his craft.

In Memory: Big Ron Hunter & Bubba Norwood


Raleigh students raise $900 for roots musicians