Rooted in Appalachian sounds, Sam Gleaves’ songwriting sings of contemporary rural life and social issues. Sam is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist originally from Wytheville, Virginia. Nearby in Rural Retreat, Virginia, dance tunes, Carter Family songs, and stories of all kinds are always circulating in Lloyd’s Barber Shop. The barber and accomplished old time musician Jim Lloyd gave Sam his start playing banjo, guitar, and fiddle. Lloyd introduced Sam to nationally recognized artist Sheila Kay Adams who taught Sam old songs and ballads from her community.
Legendary artists in the folk realm have included Sam in their concerts and tours, including Peggy Seeger, John McCutcheon, Mary McPartlan, and Tom Paxton.
In 2015, Sam collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Cathy Fink and released a debut record of original songs, titled AIN’T WE BROTHERS which has been featured by The Guardian, National Public Radio, and No Depression. The title song is based on the true story of West Virginian Sam Williams who bravely resisted discrimination he faced as an openly gay man working as a coal miner in central Appalachia. Some of America’s best known roots musicians performed on Sam’s debut album, including Tim O’Brien and Janis Ian. Peggy Seeger reviewed AIN’T WE BROTHERS as, “a keeper . . . a stunning first album.” Novelist Lee Smith has heralded Sam Gleaves as “courageous as hell and country to the bone . . . the best young songwriter around.” In 2016, Sam collaborated with celebrated Kentucky writer Silas House to co-write the folk opera IN THESE FIELDS, commissioned by the Southern Foodways Alliance.