Five musicians Everyone Should Listen to at This Year’s Northwest Folklife Festival

Five musicians Everyone Should Listen to at This Year’s Northwest Folklife Festival
2021 Northwest Folklife Festival poster by Robert L. Horton

Aloha, I'm Reese Tanimura, the Managing Director of Northwest Folklife and Chair of the Seattle Music Commission. Northwest Folklife is celebrating 50 years of bringing the community together to share the incredible scope of arts, culture and heritage in the Pacific Northwest.  

So many amazing local artists, culture bearers, and musicians have shared their traditions and expressions at the Annual Northwest Folklife Festival and our other year-round programs. 

I have discovered, re-discovered, and indulged in such great music by being a part of the organization, it was hard to pick just five to highlight. But the good news is that there is so much more to explore! I chose these five because I think they show how expansive our cultural community is. 

Find our full schedule on (launches May 17th)

Vivian Williams 

One of the original organizers of the Northwest Folklife Festival, an incredible fiddler who also started a label, Voyager Recordings & Publications, with her husband, Phil, in 1967. This independent recording and publishing company issues recordings, tune books, and instructional materials of traditional acoustic fiddle and string band music from the Pacific Northwest and throughout North America.

Clinton Fearon

A member of the legendary Gladiators, and one of the most popular vocal groups to emerge from Jamaica in the formative years of reggae. Fearon has been bringing roots reggae music to audiences across the globe for more than four decades. He has closed out the Northwest Folklife Festival from the Mural Amphitheater Stage for many years. 

Shaina Shepherd

Sings opera, blues, jazz, rock and just about any style that she can put her unique soul spin on. She is also a teacher, producer and wears a host of other biz hats. Most recently, she covered Sam Cooke’s powerful anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come” with Duff McKagan.

Reggie Garrett and the Snake Oil Peddlers

Reggie Garrett’s beautiful and somewhat haunting singing reflects the folk/ rock/gospel traditions with which he grew up. As a songwriter Garrett’s specialty is creating and enhancing a mood. Reggie doesn’t consider himself to be a Bluesman - even so he was featured in an article in the August 2018 issue of Living Blues magazine.


Unkítawa (uhn-kéy-tawa) is the Lakota word that embodies the concept that what belongs to each of us individually, equally belongs to all living things. Their community hosts a weekly drum circle that focuses on healing and education through the sharing of ancestral songs.

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