American Roots Music Program

Digging deep to connect with the diverse rural roots of American music in the first half of the 20th century.

The American Roots Music Program is dedicated to exploring the rural and early American music of the first half of the 20th century. Open to all undergraduate students at Berklee's Boston campus, American Roots Music Program courses can be taken in fulfillment of the American roots music minor at Berklee. The program explores the lifeblood of America’s musical and cultural heritage found in a wide range of American roots music styles, including blues, bluegrass, cajun, classic country, early gospel, early jazz, folk, gospel, old-time, polka, spirituals, Tex-Mex, and western swing, among others.

Studying in the American Roots Music Program, you will examine the core of what it means to be a musician in these genres while immersing yourself in a curriculum that draws on the knowledge of a board of advisors featuring incomparable talents such as Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Keb Mo, Ricky Skaggs, Darol Anger, Liz Carroll, and Leo Kottke, among others (see full list below).

The artistic director for the American Roots Music Program is Matt Glaser, who previously served as chair of Berklee’s String Department for 28 years. As a student in the program, you will study the expressive urgency and depth of a rich and wide array of American idioms, which will, in term, support your fundamental musical skills and values and awaken you to the ways in which these styles fuse with contemporary elements. Your exploration will also feature examination of key influences on western musical traditions, from Bach to traditional African music.

American Roots Music Program Board of Advisors

These top contemporary performers, writers, and producers are advising the American Roots Music Program, with more advisors to join the board in the future:

  • Darol Anger
  • Ray Benson
  • Liz Carroll
  • Michael Doucet
  • Stuart Duncan
  • Béla Fleck
  • Ted Gioia
  • David Grisman
  • Reverend Robert B. Jones Sr.
  • Leo Kottke
  • John Lawless
  • Lloyd Maines
  • Barry Mazor
  • Edgar Meyer
  • Keb Mo
  • Bruce Molsky
  • Geoff Muldaur
  • Don Rigsby
  • Ricky Skaggs
  • Andy Statman
  • Jay Ungar and Molly Mason
  • Doug Wamble
  • Sara and Sean Watkins

Learn more about the American Roots Music Program.