DeFord Bailey Legacy Festival

Freight & Salvage is proud to present the inaugural DeFord Bailey Legacy Festival, honoring the harmonica virtuoso’s impactful legacy as the first Black star of the Grand Ole Opry.

Born in rural Tennessee on December 14, 1899, Bailey overcame extreme poverty (his grandparents were slaves), childhood polio, and the pernicious racism of the Jim Crow Era to become one of the most popular and influential musicians of the 1930s. While his contributions were then overlooked or whitewashed from the history books for decades, Bailey was finally indicted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. His enduring and distinguished legacy continues to inspire and delight listeners and musicians to this day.

Curated by Grammy award-winning artist Dom Flemons, Artistic Director Peter Williams, and Director of Education PC Muñoz – the DeFord Bailey Legacy Festival will present three evenings of captivating evening concerts from some of today’s top black country stars, alongside a spectrum of afternoon activities designed to enrich attendees’ understanding of Bailey’s legacy. These activities will include talks, workshops, interviews, free community events, an exhibit of art and craft in partnership with the Downtown Berkeley Library, celebrating the history of Black cowboys in the United States, curated by Vania Kinard.

Along with paying homage to Bailey, the festival also aims to foster cultural engagement among regional traditional music enthusiasts while reaching out to new audiences, including BIPOC communities, school-age individuals, and young adults. The festival’s diverse programming seeks to create an inclusive space for all to appreciate and celebrate the rich heritage of Black country music.

Friday, December 13

Saturday, December 14

Sunday, December 15