The National Queer Arts Festival Showcase, an annual festival held from May through July throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, is putting the spotlight on queer and BIPoC country, Americana and roots musicians.
Curator and performer Cindy Emch says the show -- and events like it -- sends an important message that country music is for everyone and allows LGBTQ country fans to see themselves represented within the genre.
"I think shows like this and representation matter to remind us of who we are. To be an example to the younger version of ourselves who maybe didn't have people to look to and know that they could be completely themselves, and that it's ok," Emch tells Wide Open Country. "I'm from a small farm town and for years I thought that country music wasn't for me. That to go down that road would just mean setting myself up for heartbreak with a genre that wanted to kick my ass. Once I started just putting myself out there with it - a whole world opened up to me. Sometimes on the road I have folks come up to me with tears in their eyes to thank me for putting queer country music out into the world. People need to see themselves - especially now after all of us being so locked down and disconnected for the past year. Representation helps people survive and thrive - and that's the most important thing of all."
Tickets are available here.
Get to know the performers below.
Our Native Daughters bandmember and solo artist Amythyst Kiah will release her new album Wary + Strange on June 18.
Kiah earned a Grammy nomination for her song "Black Myself," which won Song of the Year at the Folk Alliance International Awards.
Shawna Virago, one of the nation's first openly transgender women to perform and tour nationally, released her album Heaven Sent Delinquent in 2017.
Wide Open Country Act to Watch DeLila Black recently released "Accountability," featuring pedal steel veteran BJ Cole.
"I've been developing my own alt-Americana sound, exploring what I call electro-mountain music, country-noire, punk-country and roots-rodeo-rock," Black says in a press release.
Lavender Country, considered to be the first openly gay country band, perfomed at Seattle's first Pride Festival. The band's groundbreaking self-titled album, first released in 1973, was reissued in 2014.
Secret Emchy Society
The Secret Emchy Society, fronted by Cindy Emch, released their latest album The Chaser last year.
The National Queer Arts Festival Showcase is presented by the Queer Cultural Center, which promotes social justice and the artistic and financial development of queer art and culture.