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Archive: September 2023 (8 Posts)

2018 National Heritage Fellows on-stage at the Library of Congress

AFC Announces New Research Guide on the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship

Posted by: Douglas D. Peach

The American Folklife Center (AFC) is proud to announce a new research guide, which highlights AFC collections related to the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Heritage Fellowship is the highest honor for the traditional arts in the United States. Since 1982, the award has recognized lifetime achievement among traditional artists and advocates for the traditional arts. On Friday, September 29, 2023, the American Folklife Center will be hosting a public ceremony to honor the 2023 recipients of the National Heritage Fellowship. Awardees of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 National Heritage Fellowship will also be celebrated, as the COVID-19 pandemic inhibited their in-person recognition. Find about about the new guide and the ceremony in this blog post!

Two women stand by a bust of Thomas Jefferson

Botkin Folklife Lecture Premiere: Paddy Bowman and Lisa Rathje

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome to a video premiere in the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series! This lecture features folklorists Paddy Bowman and Lisa Rathje, respectively the founding director and executive director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education. In this video, Bowman and Rathje present an overview of folklore in K-12 education in the U.S. They discuss their work with Local Learning, their visions, and the diverse and dynamic ways that folklorists and traditional artists are currently engaged in K-12, museum, and community education. For 30 years, Local Learning has trained American educators in folkloristics, created opportunities in education for traditional artists, created resources that bridge folklore and education, and developed important partnerships, including an ongoing relationship with Teaching with Primary Sources here at the Library of Congress. You'll find the video embedded in this blog post!

Five musicians play piano, upright bass, recorder, two fiddles, and a mandolin

Homegrown Plus: Spaelimenninir’s Scandinavian Folk Music

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In April 2023, the American Folklife Center hosted a Homegrown concert here at the Library of Congress featuring Spælimenninir, a Scandinavian folk music ensemble based in the Faroe Islands. Spælimenninir likes to say their music is as familiar as an old time barn dance and as exotic as the landscape of the Faroe Islands, the band’s home in the North Atlantic. Spælimenninir’s repertoire is music of the Nordic countries drawing on traditions centuries old and compositions new as today. The current line-up of Spælimenninir includes one native Faroese, three Danes, and two Americans, who sing and play many instruments, including fiddle, recorder, piano, guitar, mandolin, nyckelharpa, and acoustic bass. The multinational background of the members and combination of instruments make the music unique; no other band in the world sounds like Spælimenninir. The sound reflects each member’s heritage and illustrates the links between the music traditions of the Scandinavian countries and the United States, and we were very pleased to feature them in the Homegrown concert series. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with some of the performers, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections.

Text of image says Library of Congress, Folklife

AFC Welcomes a New Trustee to the Board: Heather Obernolte

Posted by: John Fenn

  The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress welcomes a new Congressional appointee to the Center’s Board of Trustees: Heather Obernolte, Ph.D. Appointed to the Board by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, she will serve a term that expires June 1, 2028. With a long history as a volunteer and community activism, she …

Portrait of singer Nani Noam Vazana

Homegrown Artist Nani Noam Vazana Interviewed

Posted by: Stephen Winick

On Thursday, September 14, at Noon Eastern Time, in LJ-119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building (10 First Street SE, Washington DC), we will host a special concert with Nani Noam Vazana. Vazana is one of the only artists in the world who writes and composes new songs in the endangered Ladino (or Judeo-Spanish) language, a form of Spanish derived from Old Castilian which is spoken by Sephardic Jews living mostly in Israel, the Balkans, North Africa, Greece, and Turkey. We held our usual interview with Nani in advance, through the magic of internet communications, which means you can watch it now! In case you're still deciding whether to come to her concert, you should hear her tell her story and see if she can convince you! As she revealed to me, she was born in Israel to parents who had emigrated from Morocco. Her father, wishing to leave the past behind, forbade the Ladino language in the house--but her grandmother didn't have to obey. She learned some Ladino from her grandmother, and, more importantly, heard her singing Ladino songs. Years later, on a trip to play at a jazz festival, she heard a Judeo-Spanish singer in Morocco, which set her on a new path of researching Ladino songs and eventually composing her own. Of course, that's only the bare bones of the story, and Nani tells it much more fully, as well as discussing her music, her career, and her plans for the future. Watch the interview in this blog post!

Portrait of singer Thea Hopkins on stage playing a guitar and singing into a microphone

New Guide Offers a Tool Kit for Staging an Archive Challenge

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Since 2015, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has encouraged singers, musicians, and other artists to explore our archive. Through our Archive Challenge events, artists find a song or piece of music they love, put their own stamp on it through arrangement or interpretation, learn it, and perform it. But what if you work at a different archive, and would like to stage similar events to get the word out about your archival resources while also supporting artists and musicians? Good news! We've just created a research guide containing a tool kit for staging Archive Challenge events. Read all about the tool kit, and find a link to the toll kit itself, in this blog post from Folklife Today!

A collage of portraits of each of the six artists and groups featured in the Singing in Solidarity video compilation

Singing in Solidarity: Women’s Voices Celebrate Labor Day

Posted by: Michelle Stefano

In celebration of Labor Day, we wanted to honor the contributions of women to all forms of labor, of both the past and present, and what better way to do that than through song. So we started looking back at our Homegrown Concert videos, of which many are available online, as well as our Archive Challenge series and other documented performances, to create a special concert video. The result is this compilation of performances by Thea Hopkins, the women's ensemble Ialoni, Martha González, Rachel Sumner and Traveling Light, Piper Hayes, and the group Windborne. They all feature the voices of women, with the support of their male colleagues. Watch and read about the Singing in Solidarity video in this post!