Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Though its problems date back throughout its history, the music industry has changed even more dramatically in the age of the Internet. On one hand, there is a proliferation of listening opportunities, music creation, and digital distribution. On the other hand, it is increasingly difficult for artists to balance creating music, touring, and earning a sustainable living.

Within current outlets for roots music — radio and festivals, in particular — line-ups are still dominated by white musicians and, in most cases, white male musicians.

Ma Rainey

Pursuing a career in music is a difficult undertaking even in the best of circumstances and, as in life itself, marginalized artists have far from the best of circumstances. To help achieve a better balance of powers, the Rainey Day Fund provides assistance to BIPOC artists, artists with disabilities, artists within the LGBTQ+ community, and others who add to the rich fabric of roots music. Named after Ma Rainey — the queer, Black “Mother of the Blues” — the Rainey Day Fund hopes to lighten that load through its two main components: 1) a micro-grant fund with cash gifts of up to $1,000, and 2) a suite of donated professional services — each available to marginalized voices at key moments in their careers.

The Rainey Day Fund does not have an open application process. Instead, we rely on a number of friends in the music industry — musicians, journalists, managers, talent buyers, et al — to recommend artists for us to consider. We do, however, have an open donation policy.

Advisory Board

Blair Clark

Donald Cohen

Justin Hiltner

Gaelynn Lea

Amy Ray

Executive Director

Kelly McCartney