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, LGBTQ+artists, disabled artists, 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.

RDF has partnered with Rissi Palmer to create a Color Me Country grant fund to build on the work she does with Color Me Country Radio on Apple Music. The mission is the same: to support the underrepresented voices of BIPOC artists in country music that, for too long, have lived outside the spotlight and off the airwaves.

“As an artist, I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I know what it’s like to work a 9-to-5, then pull an all-nighter in the studio to get closer to the dream of being a self-sustaining musician. Any success I have achieved has been because of the kindness of others and their belief in me, and I want to pay it forward,” Rissi says of the CMC fund. “I don’t want anyone’s dreams deferred because of financial hardships.”

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

Rissi Palmer

Amy Ray

Executive Director

Kelly McCartney