Three-day music festival in Somerset will bring back classical night with Louisville Orchestra, includes a tribute set to three decades of headliners and will honor past volunteer board members
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (January 12, 2023) — One of country music’s most widely recognized and awarded female singers — and a member of one of Kentucky’s most iconic mother-daughter duos — will headline the Master Musicians Festival’s 30th-anniversary celebration, presented by the City of Somerset, July 13-15 at Somerset Community College’s Festival Field.
Wynonna Judd will lead a lineup that is almost entirely Kentucky, MMF Executive Director Tiffany Finley said — a carefully curated experience by the non-profit festival to tell the story of MMF’s authenticity and its rise to prominence in the Kentucky music scene.
“In much the same way that Kentucky music is experiencing a rebirth through the growing popularity of Americana and nontraditional country, Wynonna is experiencing a renaissance nationwide and we are ecstatic that MMF will be a part of that,” Finley said. “Securing her as the headliner was the genesis for building a festival that highlights the best and brightest musicians in Kentucky, a class that most certainly includes Wynonna. This lineup is genuinely and authentically Kentucky and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 30 years than by going back to our roots.”
Wynonna comes to Somerset on the heels of a nationwide farewell tour she continued in 2022 after the passing of her mother and vocal partner, Naomi Judd. As one of the most successful duos in country music history, The Judds captured the hearts of fans all over the world with their unmistakable harmonies and powerhouse lead vocals from Wynonna. The Country Music Hall of Fame member’s rich and commanding voice has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, holding multiple gold, platinum, and multi-platinum certifications from the RIAA. A five-time Grammy Award winner and New York Times Bestselling Author, Wynonna is the recipient of more than 60 top industry awards, countless charting singles and 21 No. 1 Hits including “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me,” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ole Days).”
Wynonna is carrying “The Judds: The Final Tour” into 2023, also performing with singer-songwriter greats Brandi Carlile and Kentucky’s own Tyler Childers. She joins 24 acts across four stages at the three-day southern Kentucky festival, which will kick off Thursday, July 13 with a throwback to a once-staple event — MMF Classical Night.
Thanks to a $4.3 million appropriation from the Kentucky General Assembly, MMF will be a stop on Louisville Orchestra’s statewide tour. The program endeavors to work with arts and civic leaders to develop multiple community-based activities, partnering with local musicians and creators, and bringing entire communities together with full orchestra concerts. There will be 750 free tickets available to the Louisville Orchestra performance at The Center for Rural Development, Finley said, available on MMF’s website through a separate ticket on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning Feb. 1. A weekend pass to the Master Musicians Festival does not include admission to the orchestra performance.
MMF also welcomes the fluid Appalachian ballads of Lee County singer-songwriter Ian Noe, the fun and feel-good beats of western Kentucky hip-hop group Nappy Roots, the modern-day hillbilly lyrics of Americana group Nicholas Jamerson & The Morning Jays, the folk-rock live performance prowess of eastern Kentucky singer-songwriter Abby Hamilton, and the twangy guitars, crying steel, emotional lyrics and sultry vocals of eastern Kentucky singer-songwriter Brit Taylor to its three Festival Field stages.
MMF’s full 30th-anniversary lineup includes Wynonna, Ian Noe, Nappy Roots, Louisville Orchestra, Nicholas Jamerson & The Morning Jays, Abby Hamilton, Brit Taylor, Brother Smith, Producing a Kind Generation, Girl Tones, Scott T. Smith, Swift Silver, Rye Davis, Jordan Foster Family & Co., Corduroy Brown, Shades of Raven, Vanwinkle & The Spirits, Rachel Crowe, Nat Myers, Moonlight Mile, Amanda Balltrip, Jonathan New’s Kids Country Jam, Hannah Howard, the Young Songwriter Panel — featuring Justin Foster, Spenser Johns, Evan McMillian, Ireland Owens, Phoebe White and Jadan Trammell — and a special MMF 30th anniversary tribute with Nicholas Jamerson and Brother Smith.
Faithful MMF attendees have become accustomed to a Friday night party at each festival, and Finley guarantees this anniversary tribute set will not disappoint — Nicholas Jamerson and Brother Smith will play songs from many of MMF’s 30 headliners to close out the night.
The festival will also pay special tribute to anyone who has served as a member of the organization’s all-volunteer board of directors over the last three decades. And parents, never fear: Children 12 and younger are still admitted free with a ticket-holding adult, and kids’ country jam activities will abound thanks to native Somerset musician and friend of MMF Jonathan New.
“As we prepare to celebrate 30 years of the Master Musicians Festival, I can’t help but think about what we are leaving behind for future generations and the impact we are having on the Kentucky music industry,” MMF President Julie Harris said. “We pour our hearts and souls into creating a one-of-a-kind musical experience every year, an experience in which you can celebrate an artist you know and love and discover a host of artists you may have never heard before, all in one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in Kentucky. This is MMF’s legacy. And we are all grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in its long-standing history.”
Held annually in July, the Master Musicians Festival has been named Southeast Tourism Society’s Festival of the Year and the Governor’s Awards for the Arts Outstanding Community Arts Organization. In addition to two days of eclectic, diverse music, MMF offers meet-and-greet workshops hosted by artisans and musicians, as well as a wide variety of art and food vendors. MMF also showcases artisans and craftsmen, and recognizes a Kentucky artist whose festival-themed work is auctioned and featured on merchandise. Tickets to the 30th annual festival sponsored by the City of Somerset are on sale now at mastermusiciansfestival.org.