Music Maker Education for Everyone

Education Program

Music Maker delivers American roots music to the people through online publications, audio and video documentation, books, museum exhibits and workshops.

Recorded Music

Over the years, Music Maker has released close to 200 albums and CDs – all available on Bandcamp and other digital platforms including, Spotify and Apple Music. We also work with record label partners Big Legal Mess, Bible & Tire Recording Co. and Cornelius Chapel Records to produce new recordings by our amazing partner artists.

Releases for Fall 2021

Sacred Soul of North Carolina: a compilation of gospel quartet music from eastern North Carolina. Released in conjunction with Bible & Tire Recording Co. Double LP, CD and a documentary film.

Headwaters by Alexa Rose: on the Big Legal Mess label. Rose is a Music Maker Next Generation Artist, for whom we helped secure a record deal and a booking agent.

Listener’s Circle releases for Fall 2021

If you don’t want to miss a thing, join our Listener’s Circle and receive a new CD (or digital format) every other month. Listener’s Circle Members receive new recordings prior to public release.

Whose Blues, Various Artists (October)

Train Songs, Various Artists (December)


Our YouTube channel has more than 200 videos for your education and enjoyment.

Also, check out our feature-length documentary, “Toot Blues,” on Folkstreams.


Music Maker books tell the whole story...

  • An artist, a luthier and a spiritual philosopher, Vines transforms materials culled from a forgotten landscape in his relentless pursuit of building a guitar capable of producing a singular tone that has haunted his dreams. But when Vines acquires a mysterious stack of wood from the site of a lynching, Vines must grapple with the spiritual unrest and the psychic toll of racial violence living in the very grain of America. Companion CD available.
  • The tintype is rooted in more than 150 years of photographic method. In these portraits, Timothy Duffy brings new vitality to this old form, capturing powerful images of musicians who represent the roots of American music. In this collaboration between photographer and artist, music and image meet around a history of struggle, adaptability, and creativity. Published by UNC Press and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Companion CD available.
  • Photographs, biographies, interviews, and lyrics from sixty-six real and rooted originals such as Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, Cootie Stark, Mudcat, Macavine Hayes, and Drink Small. The music of America exists in these largely forgotten artists who link us back to our earliest history. Published by UNC Press.

  • America tells its stories through song. We Are the Music Makers! presents black-and-white portraits of artists who carry these songs from past to present: fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, daughters and sons, grandparents and neighbors, who continue to lovingly stir the South’s musical stew and feed American culture outside the realm of conventional fame and fortune. Published by UNC Press. Companion CD available.


Our exhibits have toured to 50 institutions across the country since 2014. Our current and upcoming offerings:

  • Portsmouth Arts & Cultural Center, Portsmouth, Virginia May 1–August 1, 2022   North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, North Dakota September 1-December 1, 2022   Maria V. Howard Arts Center, Rocky Mount, North Carolina May 19–August 13, 2023
  • Platinum palladium prints of tintype images by Timothy Duffy depicting roots musicians of the American South. Next installation: Piedmonts Arts Center, Martinsville, Virginia January 21–March 12, 2022
  • Tintype portraits of Southern music makers curated by Russell Lord and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Next installation: Phillips Museum at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania January 17–April 28, 2023
Workshops and Youth Engagement
Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen educates the younger generation about the blues.

We love to bring our artists together with musicians and children of all ages in workshops to explore our nation’s musical traditions and share the rich and fascinating life stories of the senior artists we serve. We have had to suspend in-person workshops due to the pandemic, but we hope you will enjoy our series of virtual artist’s talks — “In Conversation With Freeman Vines” — created in conjunction with his “Hanging Tree Guitars” book and exhibit.

Permanent Archive

The ensure all of Music Maker’s documentation is available to future generations, we have a permanent archive at the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Southern Folklife Collection is an archival resource dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating vernacular music, art, and culture related to the American South. Link to the Timothy Duffy Collection