Out gay bluegrass artist Sam Gleaves. Photo Credit: Susi Lawson, via samgleaves.com

Bluegrass Music is considered a form of American roots music with its own roots in English, Irish and Scottish traditional music. … Inspired by immigrants from the British Isles (particularly the Scots-Irish immigrants of Appalachia), as well as the music of rural African-Americans, jazz, and blues.

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As a business-oriented diversity consultant, I work mostly within the workplace setting. However, I am always pleased to discover and support activities in all areas of life that promote diversity and inclusion of all people. We need to see increased diversity and inclusion across all aspects of daily life — work, sports, education, politics and, indeed, in the arts — including music.

One wonderful expression of diversity in music is the upcoming second annual “Shout and Shine: A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass” being held in Raleigh, N.C. on Sept. 26. (See bit.ly/2fm9JiL for complete details.) Each artist and production member was carefully chosen to celebrate diversity within the bluegrass and roots community. These diverse musical artists include:

Tyler Williams Band, whose lead singer was born with cerebral palsy and was blind from an early age

Sam Gleaves, an openly gay musician from rural Virginia (see bit.ly/2flCPyP to listen to a very touching song “Ain’t We Brothers.”)

The Ebony Hillbillies, a prominent African-American string band

The Otsuka & Watanabe Brothers’ Japanese Jam which shows how Bluegrass music is now appreciated worldwide.

So how did this innovative celebration come to be? It was born in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” which discriminated against and stigmatized our state’s LGBTQ citizens. There were a variety of performance artists’ reactions to HB2, from several boycotts to Cyndi Lauper who came to the state and specifically engaged with the community on this issue.

It is now fantastic to see another organization, “The Bluegrass Situation,” making this positive move of involving its entire community to oppose discrimination and fight for a fully inclusive society where all people are welcomed and valued.

Stan Kimer

Stan Kimer is the owner of TotalEngagement Consulting by Kimer and has published “A 2015 More Comprehensive Outline on Human Resources Support for Transgender Employees” which can be found online...