News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Folk Festival announces 2021 virtual Americana song academy for youth

Americana Song Academy for Youth, offered as a virtual experience in 2021, is an inspiring weekend of creative community-building for high-school-aged youth through music making and songwriting.

Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) is hosting its 14th annual Americana Song Academy for Youth (ASAY) Friday through Sunday, April 23-25. The ASAY provides a noncompetitive format for high school youth to learn the basics of songwriting, performing, and overall musicianship from professional musicians and one another. Because it is virtual this year, students from around the country are welcome to participate.

The camp director, Jenner Fox, a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist said, “We will begin on a Friday night with blank notebooks.

On Sunday we will end as musicians with new tunes stuck in our heads, surprising notebook scribbles, and the feeling of time spent making music together.

This is an introduction to songwriting for those who have never written a song before, a journey of music alchemy and exploration, and a dive into the art form of writing.

It will be a supportive environment for anyone looking to share original music, and a moment in our day to really listen.

All musical styles and levels are welcome.

The most important values of the song academy each year are shared mutual respect, support, and nurturing of one another — and each person’s creative journey.”

This year’s teaching artists/instructors include Fox; keyboardist, singer, and instructor Natalie Akers; designer, producer, and songwriter/musician Asha Santee from Washington, DC; Sisters Americana Project alumni ELLSWORTH from Denver, Colorado; and a masterclass by renowned bass player, author, and musician/producer, Victor Wooten.

“The ability to offer this weekend workshop virtually provides opportunities for the organization to work with artists and students from all over the country. Our ability to work with Asha Santee, ELLSWORTH, and Victor Wooten broadens the range of in-person instruction and will greatly enhance the experience,” said Brad Tisdel, creative director and founder of the academy.

In 2008, SFF brought high school students together for the first time for a songwriting and music camp that emulated the adult-focused Americana Song Academy held prior to SFF each year. The opportunity to build community among youth from different schools was appealing to Tisdel.

“Young people gathering to celebrate one another’s musical talent is special and unique, and the students’ confidence and courage to be authentic and share both their self-expression and musical gifts with the world grows exponentially throughout the weekend,” he said.

Pricing and fee structure are different this year as well. SFF is providing the experience as a “pay what you can afford” format with five pricing tiers, meant to ensure that all interested high-school-aged youth (age 14-18) are welcome and that no one will be turned away for financial reasons. Pricing ranges from free (full scholarship) to $200 per person, where those that can afford to “pay it forward” will help support those who would like to participate in SFF’s programming by eliminating or lessening the cost barrier. Participants will decide what they can pay during the registration process. Space is limited, so interested students are encouraged to apply soon.

For registration and additional information visit


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