Appalachian singer - multi-instrumentalist - songwriter
Born and raised in Wythe County in southwest Virginia, Sam Gleaves performs innovative mountain music with a sense of history. Under the direction of local teacher and barber Jim Lloyd, Sam took up stringband instruments as a teenager, including the banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer. With his mentor ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams, Sam found his voice and fell in love with the mountain love songs, which he carries into his generation with pride. Sam’s performances combine traditional Appalachian ballads, dance tunes, original songs and the stories that surround the music.
Sam earned a degree in Folklore from Berea College and performed for four years with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, directed by Al White. With that band and as a solo artist, Sam has toured extensively, performing at U.S. venues such as Mountain Stage and the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and abroad in Ireland, England, Canada and Japan.
Sam writes new songs in the Appalachian tradition, telling stories about love, the home place, working people and present social issues in the mountains. Sam’s music has been featured by National Public Radio, Kentucky Educational Television, West Virginia Public Radio, Appalshop’s WMMT FM, KEXP, Exclaim!, The Windy City Times, The Bitter Southerner and Still Journal. AIN'T WE BROTHERS, Sam's debut record of original songs, is produced by Cathy Fink and was released November, 2015. AIN’T WE BROTHERS has been reviewed by National Public Radio, No Depression, and The Bluegrass Situation. Peggy Seeger called AIN’T WE BROTHERS, "A stunning first album,” saying, “I keep very few albums that I am given. This one’s a keeper."
Left: The Sharkey Farmers, Sam and Al, Alice and Ruth on Red Barn Radio, December 2014. Photo by Rachel White. Center: Photo by Mary Sue Scott.
Right: Cathy Fink, Sam and Janis Ian at the Rec Room Studio, Nashville, Tennessee.
Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour (guest of Tom Paxton), Lexington, Kentucky, May 2015.
Carter Family Fold (with the McLain Family Band), Hiltons, Virginia, 2013, 2014.
Galway International Arts Festival (with Bertha Hope and Mary McPartlan), Ireland, 2014.
Thomas Wolfe House (with Sheila Kay Adams), Asheville, North Carolina, 2011
Keynote Performance (with Silas House), Appalachian Studies Association, Marshall University, 2014.
Crooked Road Youth Music Series (w/ Leigh Beamer & Tyler Hughes), Heartwood, Abingdon, VA, 2014.
Red Barn Radio, Lexington, Kentucky, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 (including programs broadcast on KET).
-With the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble-
Paul Rusch Festival and Yatsugatake County Fair at KEEP, Hokuto City, Japan, 2014.
Tennessee Fall Homecoming, Museum of Appalachia, Norris, Tennessee, 2010, 2011, 2013.
Helen Mills Theater, New York, New York, 2011.
Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music, Berea, Kentucky, 2010 – 2014.
Instructor, Common Ground on the Hill, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD, 2012, 2014, 2015.
Teaching Assistant, Swannanoa Gathering, Warren Wilson College, 2012.
Teaching Assistant, Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, Letcher County, Kentucky, 2014, 2015.
Guest Instructor, Now Is The Cool of The Day with Michael and Carrie Kline, Elkins, WV, 2012, 2013.
Guest Musician, Irish Music and Diaspora class, National University of Ireland Galway, 2014, 2015.
Red Foley Award, Berea College, 2014.
First Place, Folk Song Competition, Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, 2013.
ON OTHER RECORDINGS:
“Johnny Is My Darling” (2014) composed by Susan Stenger and Sam Gleaves
Score for L’EXPOSITION D'UN FILM by Mathieu Copeland.
“Greenwood Laddie,” Shirley Inspired (2014) compilation tribute to British folksinger Shirley Collins.
“Law in the West Virginia Hills,” Blair Pathways (2012) compilation, music of the West Virginia Mine Wars.