ROOTS has been feeding musicians since we began in 2010 with the very first Fayetteville Roots Festival. We started the festival with a belief in treating musicians well and feeding them a nutritious meal. Our proposition was simple: take great care with musicians, show them respect, and feed them a wholesome meal created with love. We believe that great food on the plate (and in the belly) makes for great music on stage. We feel that so many of the amazing performances over the years have started with a meal, made with local ingredients, grown by local artists (farmers), prepared by artists (chefs). You don’t have to take our word for it though, the musicians talk about it from stage. We are proud of that.

When COVID 19 impacted our community, country, and world early in 2020, like so many others, we were forced to consider what life in a pandemic and economic crisis would look like. The impact on the music and culinary communities was stark and immediate. For Roots, concerts and community programs at the Roots HQ and in the community were cancelled and the possibility of hosting a festival in 2020 was dim. For us personally, as musical and culinary artists, we have experienced gig cancellations and restaurant closures. Our hearts broke as we saw the same things unfold throughout the music and culinary communities. Reflecting on where we started as an organization, our path forward was clear: feed musicians. Through the Roots Meals for the Music Community Program, we compile and distribute weekly meals/care packages for curbside pick-up from the Roots HQ. It is our attempt to treat musicians with respect and nourishment.

We continue to see need in our music community and have tracked a growing number of musicians coming through each week. As we head into the coming months we are paying close attention to the delicate situation in the music community: the additional $600 weekly unemployment support from the federal government is expiring, musicians will begin to rely more on their savings, venues are still closed and restaurants that may have hosted live music in the past are operating at reduced capacity (many not reinstating the live music), and Northwest Arkansas is facing record numbers of COVID 19 infections. It is our fear that live music may be the last to fully reopen and recover. We value the important musician voices in our community. Musicians are truth-tellers. They offer a voice through song that serves as a mirror for reflection and positive social change. We must nurture their voices during this time of need.

-Bryan Hembree
Co-Founder, Fayetteville Roots & Musician

With the support of donations and grants from the music, business, culinary, and non-profit community as well as the generosity of individual donors, we are proud to have provided meals/care packages to over 100 unique musician households in Northwest Arkansas over the first 18 weeks of the program (as of August 1st).  In total Roots has distributed over 8500 servings via 684 meals care packages. One a weekly basis, each care package representing approximately $60 that a musician doesn’t have to spend on groceries, stretching their savings during this uncertain time. On a collective basis, Roots has provided the equivalent of $42,510 in meals support

DONATE HERE: https://therootsstore.square.site
or Venmo: @fayettevillerootsfestival
or PayPal: PayPal.me/fayettevilleroots
or Email us:  [email protected]

A Roots Fest moment that sticks out for us was in 2019, when music legend and pioneer Mavis Staples returned to Roots for a second year in a row and specifically asked to have a sit-down meal at the Roots HQ for her and the band before the show.

Mavis’ backup singer, and lead singer of San Diego based band, Malachi Henry & The Lights, Ben Hernandez shared a photo and a few words about the experience:
Family Dinner w/ some amazing friends and musicians. This was a nice quiet evening before we took the stage with @mavisstaples at the @fayettevilleroots last weekend. We passed the time talking about things outside of the job and off the stage. We talked about family and loved ones, food, art, and old times. Mavis talked about new singers whose music she follows and laughed about funny memories she had of Pops. I felt very lifted after this dinner, which for me, translated into a strong voice and a lot of freedom on stage that night. Singing brings me a lot of joy and so do these folks. Thank y’all! #joy #singing #mavisstaples #mavisstaplestour #familydinner #grateful #fayettevillerootsfestival”