RICHMOND – Virginia’s contribution to music history and innovation around the world is celebrated by declaring September as Virginia Music Heritage Month.
Virginia’s music culture is diverse and includes genres such as Blues, folk, brass, hip-hop, mountain music, country, gospel, and rock. Many notable musicians were born in and/or began their careers in Virginia, including Dave Matthews, Ella Fitzgerald, Bruce Hornsby, Pharrell Williams, the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Missy Elliott, D’Angelo, and Jason Mraz.
Virginia hosts many music festivals, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from across the country and the world. These include FloydFest, the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, and the Richmond Folk Festival among many others.
Richmond has long been known for its underground punk scene, but the city has become a fit for all types of musical genres.Virginia’s capital is home to a diverse local music scene from jazz to folk to indie rock and is filled with musical talent – from both local bands and nationally recognized artists – on any given night. For the music traveler, Richmond is the place to visit to catch your favorite artists and discover a new favorite at any of its numerous live music venues.
The sounds of country music beat strong in the Southwest Virginia area, connected by The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. The Crooked Road winds through almost 300 miles of scenic terrain in Southwest Virginia, including 19 counties, four cities, and 54 towns. Historic music sites around the Crooked Road include the Floyd Country Store, home to the Friday Night Jamboree, the Rex Theater in Galax, and the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, named after the original Carter Family, A.P., Sara, and “Mother” Maybelle and dedicated to the preservation and performance of old-time country and bluegrass music.
The city of Bristol is known as the Birthplace of Country Music because of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, which legendary country artist Johnny Cash referred to as “the single most important event in the history of country music.” The Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened in August 2014 to commemorate the Bristol Sessions and Southwest Virginia’s contributions to American music. The Bristol Sessions celebrated its 95th Anniversary in 2022.
Hip-hop is huge in Hampton Roads. Some of the biggest producers the genre has ever known are from the area. Since the 1990s, the region has had a hand in making some of the most successful hip hop, rap, and pop music made anywhere.
“Virginia’s history is rich with musical heritage,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “So many artists from the state influence music and entertainment heard around the world. We want to honor the Commonwealth’s exciting music heritage as well as its storied past. Music tourism is an important industry, contributing to the overall economic impact of tourism and diversifying Virginia’s economy.”
Statewide music events during Virginia Music Heritage Month include:
- Sept. 1-4: The Front Porch Fest is a local, regional and national musicians showcase their talent on two stages at Spirithaven Farm taking place on Virginia’s front porch to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Sept. 3-4: The Appaloosa Festival is a roots music and outdoors experience set at the Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal. Hosted by Scythian, Appaloosa features local, national, and international bands, and musical workshops by top artists, including some of the most critically acclaimed up-and-coming artists from all over the country.
- Sept. 3-4: The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival has been bringing great music to the Shenandoah Valley for more than 50 years. Each year, the festival presents eight to 10 concerts, featuring nationally recognized, award-winning artists. Acts performing in September include The Spinners (Sept. 3) and Béla Fleck with Billy Contreras, Jacob Jolliff, Justin Moses, Bryan Sutton & Mark Schatz (Sept. 4).
- Sept. 9-11: For more than 20 years, the award-winning Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion has been celebrating Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music. State Street in historic Downtown Bristol comes alive with 22 stages of live music.
- Sept. 9-11: The Blue Ridge Rock Festival will be bringing the rock to VIRginia International Raceway. The festival will feature music from Slipknot, Disturbed, Ghost, Mudvayne, Ice Cube, 3 Doors Down, A Day to Remember, Halestorm, Lamb of God, Alice Cooper, Tenacious D, and many more.
Find out more about Virginia’s music heritage at virginia.org/music.