Melissa Etheridge, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, the Marcus King Band, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and John Cowan are the latest additions to the lineup for MerleFest 2020, which is April 23-26 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.
Etheridge won her first Grammy Award in 1992 and a second Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance in 1993. She is known for her confessional lyrics and raspy, smoky vocals. She won an Academy Award for best song in 2007 with “I Need to Wake Up,” written for the documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Her 15th studio recording, “The Medicine Show,” was released in 2019. Etheridge’s MerleFest debut is Saturday evening.
Lukas Nelson is the son of Willie Nelson, and both of their bands perform Thursday evening at MerleFest. Lukas and his band, Promise of the Real, have been on a world tour globe for 10 years. Their latest album, “Turn Off the News (Build A Garden),” was the top Americana album for 10 straight weeks in 2019.
Marcus King, 23, has been writing songs and performing onstage for half his life, delivering his own brand of Americana and blues inspired by rock ’n’ roll. Born and raised in Greenville, S.C., the fourth-generation musician debuts with his band at MerleFest Friday evening.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, 20, a blues artist from Clarksdale, Miss., has performed at festivals around the country. He’s also an official ambassador for United by Music North America, a program helping people with developmental challenges such as autism to express themselves through music. Ingram debuts Saturday at MerleFest.
John Cowan has been one of the best-known voices of “newgrass” for 35 years. After New Grass Revival disbanded in 1990, Cowan recorded a series of critically-acclaimed solo albums and has been a touring member of the Doobie Brothers for 10 years. A MerleFest regular since 1988, he performs Friday.
Artists already announced for MerleFest are Willie Nelson & Family, Alison Krauss, John Prine, Jerry Douglas Band, Sam Bush, Billy Strings, Jim Lauderdale, Kruger Brothers, Waybacks, Scythian, Donna the Buffalo, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Tommy Emmanuel, Colin Hay, Shinyribs, Charley Crockett, Darrell Scott, Steel Wheels, Kelsey Waldon, Gangstagrass, Robbie Fulks, Amythyst Kiah, Cordovas, Alison Brown, Andy May, Banknotes, Bill and the Belles, Bryan Sutton, Carol Rifkin, Charles Welch, Chatham Rabbits, Che Apalache, Cleverlys, Creole Stomp with Dennis Stroughmatt, David Holt, Fireside Collective, Flattop, Happy Traum, Hogslop String Band, InterACTive Theatre of Jef, Irish Mythen, Iron Horse Bluegrass, Jack Lawrence, Jeff Little Trio, Jody Carroll, Joe Smothers, Ken Crouse, Laura Boosinger, Local Boys, Los Texmaniacs, Mark Bumgarner, Mary Flower, Mitch Greenhill, Pete & Joan Wernick, Piedmont Bluz, Presley Barker, Rev. Robert Jones, Roy Book Binder, Sierra Ferrell, String Madness, T. Michael Coleman, Tony Williamson, Wayne Henderson, Moore Brothers, Williams Brothers and Wyld Fern.
Entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest are accepted until Feb. 1 online at MerleFest.org or by mail at MerleFest/CASC, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, N.C., 28697. Cost is $30 per entry. Lyrics must be in English and no instrumentals are accepted.
Tickets for MerleFest, with Window World as presenting sponsor, are on sale at www.MerleFest.org or by calling 1-800-343-7857. Early Bird Tier 1 tickets are available until Feb. 16, Tier 2 tickets from Feb. 17 to April 22 and remaining tickets at the gate during the festival.