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Archive: September 2023 (4 Posts)

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.

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!