Sam Gleaves

Born and raised in Wythe County in southwest Virginia, Sam Gleaves performs innovative mountain music with a sense of history. Under the direction of local teacher and barber Jim Lloyd, Sam took up stringband instruments as a teenager, including the banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer. With his mentor ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, Sam found his voice and fell in love with the mountain love songs, which he carries into his generation with pride. Sam’s performances combine traditional Appalachian ballads, dance tunes, original songs and the stories that surround the music.

Sam earned a degree in Folklore from Berea College and performed for four years with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, directed by Al White. With that band and as a solo artist, Sam has toured extensively, performing at U.S. venues such as Mountain Stage and the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and abroad in Ireland, England, Canada and Japan.

Sam writes new songs in the Appalachian tradition, telling stories about love, the home place, working people and present social issues in the mountains. Sam’s music has been featured by National Public Radio, Kentucky Educational Television, No Depression, The Bluegrass Situation, KEXP, Exclaim!, Sing Out!, The Bitter Southerner, and Still Journal.

AIN'T WE BROTHERS, Sam's debut record of original songs, was released in November, 2015. Produced by Cathy Fink, AIN’T WE BROTHERS also features guest artists Janis Ian, Tim O’Brien, Laurie Lewis, Marcy Marxer, Tyler Hughes and others.


Quotes and Reviews

“What I first noticed about Sam was the gift, but that’s obvious to anybody. What struck me was just underneath that talent, an honest respect and desire to honor this tradition. Sam is all we hope to see and hear in these younger generations.”

- Sheila Kay Adams, NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipient, seventh generation ballad singer

“If a remake of ‘O, Brother!’ is made some decades from now, it is quite likely that Sam Gleaves will be standing where Ralph Stanley stood. This music, this culture, this history, and mainly this spirit will live forever in Sam's magic. He's got so much mojo to give you."

-Gaye Adegbalola, Blues Woman, Blues Music Award Winner.

“Sam Gleaves is an amazing new talent. To think that someone so young can understand the ancient tones of this music with such a deep and profound sense of honor makes me have a whole new kind of hope for the future.”

-Silas House, bestselling author, NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College

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