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Four people sing around a microphone
Windborne at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse Oct 19, 2019. Courtesy of Windborne

Homegrown Plus: Windborne

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We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Windborne, a vocal quartet from New England. BBC Traveling Folk called them “the most exciting vocal group in a generation,” and they have certainly done great things with AFC archival materials.

We’ve taken a break from presenting 2021 concerts to feature our 2022 series premieres, but will return to them in October.  But we didn’t want to wait to present Windborne, because we have news! Windborne will be in the Washington, D.C. area for a live concert and vocal workshop on September 24. You can find out how to attend at their website, at this link.

Just like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video, a video interview with the musicians, and connections to Library of Congress collections. (Find the whole series here!)

Windborne is Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon. The four singers grew up immersed in the traditional song and dance communities of New England and discovered a love of world folk music in their teens. All four have traveled extensively in the US and throughout the world with Village Harmony, Northern Harmony and the Renewal Chorus, leading workshops and giving concerts. Over the past decade, Windborne has sought out masters of traditional singing styles in the US and around the world to study a variety of vocal music. Through these collaborations, they have developed the vocal agility and authentic sound for which they are known.

In 2014, Windborne was one of 10 groups selected by American Music Abroad and the US Department of State to tour as cultural ambassadors through music. They traveled to Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola, touring with internationally known artists, performing at sold-out national theaters, and collaborating with traditional musicians in each country. They also taught music and dance workshops to schoolchildren, English-language learners, dance schools, choirs, and music conservatories. Windborne’s dynamic concert programs have included songs from Corsica, the Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, Quebec, and Basque country, as well as traditional and original American folk music.

For their concert at the American Folklife Center, they performed work related songs from AFC collections from a variety of traditions in celebration of Labor Day. Check it out in the player below!

[Transcript of Concert Video]

In our interview, I talked with all four members of Windborne about a wide range of topics. We talked about their upbringing in New England, their participation in Village Harmony, their travels all over the world, and their approach to singing and to arranging vocal harmonies. We also talked about important people in their lives (such as the late Larry Gordon and Tony Barrand), their performances and recordings, and their experience of going viral on TikTok! Watch it in the player below!

[Transcript of Interview]

You can find both of these videos with more bibliographic information on the Library of Congress website.

You can also find them on the Library of Congress YouTube channel.

Collection Connections

If you enjoyed the concert and interview, check out the Collection Connections below. These include some of the field recordings from our archive that Windborne used in their concert.

Archival Collection Items

“Which Side Are you On?” was recorded by Alan Lomax several times in 1937 in Kentucky. Here it is sung by Jim Garland in 1937 in a recording put online on the Lomax Archive site at this link.

The song “Hard Times” sung by Lillie Steele was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1938 (AFS1709) and has been put online at this link at the Lomax Digital Archive.

Guides and Essays

Find a blog with links to all of our New England Collection Guides at this link.

Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! Once again, Windborne will be in the Washington, D.C. area for a live concert and vocal workshop on September 24. You can find out how to attend at their website, at this link.

The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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