In 1998, a few Kalamazoo-area musician friends decided to find a space to meet, share and play the bluegrass music they loved on acoustic stringed instruments. They located an elementary school, and set up a monthly gathering. Word spread quickly and soon the group grew into the Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association (GLAMA). The early organizers took the initiative to become an education-based non-profit organization and in March of 1999, GLAMA officially achieved 501(c)(3) status.
Early GLAMA gatherings expanded to multiple jam sessions, instrumental workshops, and concerts that featured local and national artists. In 2002, GLAMA began to partner with the Kalamazoo Nature Center in presenting an outdoor bluegrass event and the Cooper’s Glen Bluegrass Festival was born. During the next five years, Cooper’s Glen evolved into a great family-centered music festival, adding additional styles of acoustic music that included blues, swing, folk, singer-songwriters and solo artists. The festival name was changed to reflect the inclusion of the variety of music presented and became Cooper’s Glen Music Festival. In 2008, Cooper’s Glen became an indoor festival and moved to downtown Kalamazoo during the winter months.
In additional to presenting Cooper’s Glen Music Festival, GLAMA continues to host regularly scheduled opportunities for players of all abilities to participate and learn from each other in jams, singing circles and other events and activities.