On the heels of being awarded IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the BGS team is excited to announce a few staff changes in our organization that took effect earlier this summer. Our incredible Managing Editor of 4+ years, Craig Shelburne, was recently offered an opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime project – more details to come – and consequently has had to end his time with BGS. While we miss him dearly, with his unending dedication to and love of roots music, his singular journalistic perspective, and his legendary puns lighting up our lives, we are so thrilled for him in this next chapter of his career and the entire team wishes him the best.
With Shelburne’s departure, we are absolutely delighted to have longtime BGS team member Justin Hiltner back in the fold, now acting as our Managing Editor. Justin Hiltner is a queer and disabled banjo player, songwriter, and music writer known from Peabody Award-winning podcast Dolly Parton’s America. He recently completed a national tour of Broadway’s Tony Award-winning revival of Oklahoma! and played banjo and guitar for a limited run of the musical Bright Star at the Miracle Theatre in Miami. His debut solo album, 1992, was released in December 2022 and was a Best of 2022 selection by NPR Music, Slate, and more. (We covered the project here.) Hiltner has been nominated for Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year, Momentum Industry Involvement, Writer of the Year, and Collaborative Recording of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). In 2016 he co-founded Shout & Shine, a showcase, column, and video series celebrating representation and inclusion in bluegrass with BGS before going on to become our social media director and, later, Digital Brand Director. He also helped found – and currently sits on the board – for Bluegrass Pride, a non-profit with a mission of uplifting LGBTQ+ folks in roots music, and recently he served on Folk Alliance International’s Cultural Equity Council.
In addition, we’ve also had the joy of recently adding Lonnie Lee Hood to our team as our Social Media Editor. Lonnie is a journalist and writer located in Middle Tennessee. They are currently working on their debut book, Redneck Revolution, with the West Virginia University Press. They live with their potbelly pig and look forward to building a small, sustainable homestead in the mountains.
Former BGS media director and executive assistant Shelby Williamson has also moved into a new position within our staff, stepping into the newly created Creative Director role. Williamson has overseen many aspects of BGS’ outward facing brand over the past handful of years, from our Instagram channel and email newsletter to the ever-expanding BGS Podcast Network, leading production and development of shows such as Harmonics with Beth Behrs and Carolina Calling. As Creative Director, Williamson will oversee a visual branding refresh coming to BGS soon and will also co-edit a new country-geared vertical within the BGS brand with Hiltner, to be announced soon.
Rounding out the BGS staff are co-founder and executive director Amy Reitnouer Jacobs and web and audience development expert Joe Klingl, in addition to our BGS family of contributors, writers, and creatives. Our team is already enjoying this latest evolution of BGS and we’re excited to continue connecting with our community in this new chapter.