Black Fret announces first batch of music grant award winners

Ten $10,000 grants were awarded Nov. 8 to Austin musicians from nonprofit group Black Fret.

Black Fret, an organization started in early 2013 as an outlet to empower local musicians by hosting members-only events and performances, nominated 20 Austin acts, who all received mentorship, paying gigs and exposure—even if they were not among the grant recipients.

The 2014 grant winners, announced during Black Fret's first annual Black Ball at The Paramount Theatre, include Amy Cook, Elizabeth McQueen, Erin Ivey, Gina Chavez, Graham Wilkinson, Lincoln Durham, Mother Falcon, Quiet Company, The Rocketboys and Wild Child, who was not present to accept the award due to a European tour.

"The Black Ball was truly amazing," said Black Fret Founder Colin Kendrick in a statement. "You could feel the love and profound respect of our members for these musicians we so cherish."

Most of the 20 nominees also performed 10-minute sets during the first annual gala. Additional nominees who performed included Danny Malone, East Cameron Folkcore, Elias Haslanger, Emily Bell, Jitterbug Vipers, Jonny Gray and Little Radar.

"It was incredible to have 16 of our nominees play and to see our nominees, advisors and members all come together in such a beautiful way to support our local music to the tune of $100,000 and a whole lot of love," said Matt Ott, Black Fret co-founder and Black Ball emcee, in a statement.

Black Fret members pay $1,500 annually to support artists, see exclusive shows and have a say in who is awarded grant money each year. The annual process to nominate artists kicks off at the close of the Black Ball and concludes in March when the organization announces its list of nominees—and most of which will perform at future Black Fret member-only events.

Ott said during the Black Ball that he hopes to raise enough membership dues by next year to double the grant contribution to $200,000.

The grant money is made available to winning artists in 2015 by writing, recording and performing new music and by providing community services to other area nonprofits, according to Black Fret officials. All grant nominees, whether or not they won, are eligible for the next round of grants, Ott said during the event.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.