The Red Dirt Relief Fund, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has provided more than $450,000 to 700+ music people in 38 Oklahoma counties since its inception in 2012. Recipients’ situations range from loss of property due to wildfire and tornado to loss of work after accidents or medical emergencies. Most notably, grants totaling more than a quarter million dollars have helped struggling music professionals during pandemic.
It’s been said musicians don’t have insurance—they host benefits. It was the tough truth in this quip that led Red Dirt musicians and fans to begin an organization to serve music people in times of need. Soon after the Red Dirt Relief Fund was granted 501(c)3 non-profit status in 2012, it became clear it couldn’t just serve Red Dirt musicians, but would need to cover the entire musician community of Oklahoma. Today, any person living in Oklahoma who has worked in the business of making music for at least five years is eligible for aid.
“We founded this nonprofit in 2012 to support music industry professionals out-of-work due to emergency circumstances. We never imagined how essential this would be for an industry rocked by pandemic as venues shuttered, tours were cancelled and gatherings of any type became unsafe,” said Katie Dale, Executive Director of the Red Dirt Relief Fund. “In previous years we’ve made about 40 grants annually. Since last March, we’ve made over 700 grants across 38 Oklahoma counties totaling $272,000 for music people working jobs in churches, orchestras, schools, recording studios, venues and every genre of performance. We are grateful for the support of everyone who makes this work possible.”
Financial backing to begin the Fund grew out of a concert in April 2011 in Stillwater, Oklahoma—the birthplace of Oklahoma roots red dirt music. The event, called Gypsy Café, brought together over 30 of the scene’s most successful songwriters, including Jimmy LaFave, Brandon Jenkins, Jason Boland, Stoney LaRue, Cody Canada and more, to perform in pairs at intimate live music venues around Stillwater. All ticket proceeds were used to begin the Fund. Today, Bob Childers’ Gypsy Cafe brings more than 60 songwriters together annually for the organization’s largest annual benefit music festival. The Fund began a second annual benefit festival, Tom Skinner Skyline Fest, in Tulsa in 2016.
Red Dirt Relief Fund is operated by an all-volunteer Board of representing communities statewide. To learn more about how you can support an organization dedicated to serving Oklahoma talent in times of need, please visit reddirtrelieffund.org.