The North Carolina Folk Festival kicks off with the Songs of Hope and Justice Concert Wednesday at the Carolina Theatre.

The concert series began in 2015 and has been a regular part of the folk festival since then. 

Singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett is the organizer of the event, bringing in such names as Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens. This year’s lineup includes bluegrass legend Alice Gerrard, sacred steel musicians DaShawn and Wendy Hickman of Mount Airy, and Greensboro’s Molly McGinn. 

Dossett says folk songs are the kind that people rally around. The long history of folk music may span across years and themes, but she says their juxtapositions hold them together.

“Old, like, labor songs, or old coal mining songs, and you put them next to new songs that might be about immigration or about climate change, or whatever they may be about. It's kind of surprising how similar they all are,” she says.

Dossett says the concert series will start a new pilot program called N.C. Song School. Ninth and tenth graders will learn songwriting through a weekend workshop and summer weeklong camp. 

“When the students write songs next summer we'll have a showcase of that week's work," she says. "But we will also choose a couple of the students to do their songs at next year's Songs of Hope & Justice.”

Following the kickoff concert, the North Carolina Folk Festival will run Friday through Sunday in downtown Greensboro. 

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