Black Fret Awards 10K Grants to 10 Austin Musicians

Written by Heather Wagner Reed

I’ve been honored to work with the Austin-based nonprofit Black Fret for over a year now. Black Fret’s mission is to empower musicians to create and perform great new music. The organization is an innovative evolution of the age-old symphony patronage model that is focused on supporting popular local music. I serve as a member of the Advisory Board, and have been handling PR for the organization this past year, including our most recent inaugural Black Ball held at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 8.  Ten $10,000 grants were awarded at the Ball to Austin musicians, including Cherrywood neighbor Elizabeth McQueen.

“The Black Ball was truly amazing,” said Black Fret Founder Colin Kendrick. “You could feel the love and profound respect of our members for these musicians we so cherish. Next year we are on track to double our grant giving and with every new member we can do that much more to support Austin’s musicians.”

The Black Ball featured performances by many of the 2014 Black Fret Nominees, including Amy Cook, Danny Malone, East Cameron Folkcore, Elias Haslanger, Elizabeth McQueen, Emily Bell, and The Rocketboys. Special guests Shawn Colvin and Riders Against the Storm also joined the stage that evening.

Founded in January of 2013, Black Fret is a 501(c)3 public charity headquartered in Austin, Texas. Black Fret is built upon the simple principle that popular local music, like the symphony and opera, is worthy of community support. To that end, Black Fret is gathering a limited group of 1,333 Patrons of Local Music, each of whom will make a $1,500 annual contribution. At capacity, these contributions will create an annual pool of $2,000,000 that will fund grants, performances and operations while building an institutional endowment that will fund growth in future grants.

“I’m still in a state of delighted shock at having been awarded a Black Fret Grant,” said grant recipient Elizabeth McQueen. “The amount of talent in the nominee field was staggering, and reaffirmed to me how lucky I am to live in this city. Austin has been growing and changing, and Black Fret is harnessing that change for good, in service of supporting what makes Austin unique and amazing — music and the musicians who make it.”

Now that grant recipients are chosen, they will then be able to “unlock” their grant dollars in 2015 by writing, recording and performing new music and by providing community services to other area nonprofits. As the artists unlock the grant dollars, Black Fret members will receive regular updates and private glimpses into the life and creative process of those artists. In addition to the $10,000 grant, the ten grant recipients and 2014 grant nominees will have continued access to one-on-one mentoring from Black Fret’s Advisory Board, which consists of some of Austin’s top music industry leaders. For more information, please visit .

“The Black Ball could’ve only happened in Austin,” said grant recipients Quiet Company. “Fans, sponsors, engineers and artist all gathered in the beautiful Paramount Theatre for an amazing night of music and celebration. We are honored to be a part of it.”

“We are a community, but Black Fret has made us truly a family,” said grant nominee Emily Bell.

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About Black Fret

Black Fret is a public charity headquartered in Austin whose mission is to empower musicians to create and perform great new music. The organization is an innovative evolution of the age-old symphony patronage model that is focused on supporting popular local music. Together, Black Fret’s limited membership will build an endowed institution capable of sustaining more than a million dollars a year in grants to Austin’s artists. Once Black Fret reaches its membership cap of 1,333 members, Black Fret’s core program will allow its members to select more than 40 artists each year to receive $25,000 grants on a sustained and ongoing basis. Built around this core, the organization will be able to offer a host of other grant programs to serve the needs of the broader community. Black Fret’s limited group of members will constitute a social network of dynamic friends dedicated to good music, good times and to seeing Austin’s artists prosper. Annual Black Fret member dues are $1,500, breaking down to less than $100 a month after tax. Many members have access to a corporate charitable giving match program (such as offered by Dell and other major employers) that can reduce the monthly cost to less than $50 a month. In return for annual dues, members will be rewarded with unprecedented personal access to the city’s top artists through a broad range of private events including monthly shows in intimate venues and an incredible annual gala event named The Black Ball.

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