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Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Bill Monroe Featured at Folk Alliance Conference

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Bill MonroeMemphis, TN -- Every birthday is special but few approach the celebratory significance of 2012 as American music and its fans worldwide observe the centennial births of a trio of unique musical visionaries. The music they created came from and spoke to the core cultural sensibilities of our country and by doing so literally shaped the sound of the 20th century.

Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Bill Monroe were born within a fourteen-month span of each other but not even that expanded interval, much less a mere year, is long enough to properly pay tribute to their unparalleled achievements. A century later their music, as quintessentially American as it is universally accessible, continues to resonate and inspire.

Oklahoma's "Dust Bowl Troubadour" Guthrie gave folk music a new found passion and purpose. As spokesman for the common man he evocatively chronicled their struggle to rise from poverty and oppression, simultaneously celebrating their hard-won victories and castigating the privileged and powerful who held them down. His anthems of inclusion gave voice to those previously ignored while his example gave rise to a generation of socially conscious singers and songwriters.

Mississippi native Johnson, who tragically died at the age of 27, is an almost mythological figure in American music but the enduring influence of his soul baring blues approach is both very real and very vibrant to this day. Johnson's recorded output was unfortunately limited but the searing sincerity of his 1936-37 Texas recordings has become the standard for blues authenticity while the songs themselves are conspicuous components of the bedrock blues repertoire.

Monroe took the natural beauty of Kentucky bluegrass and transformed it into a namesake style of music featuring relentless innovation and dazzling virtuosity. He invented, named, and popularized the genre while remaining its biggest and brightest star for six decades while his bands, comprised of some of the greatest instrumentalists of any era, consistently expanded and upgraded the sound with experimental artistry of amazing proportions.

Come celebrate these legends at the 2012 Folk Alliance International Conference, February 22-26, 2012, in Memphis, TN. In addition to the three centennials, there will much more to celebrate, including new and emerging artists, vibrant collaborations, educational opportunities for all, and a special keynote from music industry icon Bob Lefsetz. For more information, please visit

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