Top of page

Archive: 2024 (12 Posts)

A man plays guitar and sings with an American flag in the background.

Homegrown Plus: American Roots Music with Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr.

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with an entertaining and educational concert and interview by Reverend Robert B. Jones, Sr., an inspirational musician and storyteller celebrating the history, humor, and power of American roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs. For more than thirty years Robert has entertained and educated audiences of all ages in schools, colleges, libraries, union halls, prisons, churches and civil rights organizations. He brought that inspiration here to the Library of Congress on February 15, 2024, as part of the Homegrown series as well as the series "Live! At the Library," and as part of our celebrations of Black History Month. As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, Rev. Jones has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American roots music. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity is a story that we should celebrate, not just tolerate. This concert included blues, spirituals, gospel, rock, and even a touch of hip hop, delivered with voice, acoustic guitar and harmonica. Watch for the special sequence in which Rev. Jones is joined by his wife Sister Bernice Jones, his daughter Arnecia Jones, his son Robert Jones II (aka R.J.), and his daughter-in-law, R.J.'s wife, Sister Rosa Warner Jones. As usual for this series, you’ll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

Five men in suits and ties.

Homegrown Plus: Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers

Posted by: Stephen Winick

It's time for another Classic Edition of Homegrown Plus! Embedded in this blog post, you'll find two concert videos (from 2009 and 2013) with the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, a 2013 interview video, and a set of links to explore. The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, which since those days has shortened its name to the Brotherhood Singers, is a jubilee-style, a cappella, sacred gospel quartet from Covington, Kentucky. Over 30 years ago, Ric Jennings formed the quartet out of the renowned Ninth Street Baptist Church Men's Choir. Since the beginning, this community-based quartet has sung in churches, at special gospel programs, anniversaries, song services, and other sacred music events. In addition to continuing the traditional community role of the gospel quartet, the Brotherhood has expanded their reach to a global audience, performing both spiritual and secular songs. Enjoy their music in these classic videos!

A portrait of an anthropomorphic egg from the front and the back

Humpty Dumpty: Metafolklore, Riddles, and Yolks

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This post looks at the history and meaning of the nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty." It considers several popular origin stories for the rhyme, including that it is about Richard III of England, or about a siege engine in the English Civil War. It points out that these stories constitute "metafolklore," or folklore about folklore, and traces their history. It also considers how the rhyme works as a riddle, whose solution is "an egg." It includes many unusual versions of "Humpty Dumpty," many fun stories, and many classic illustrations!

A woman sings into a microphone and plays a frame drum.

Homegrown Plus: Charly Lowry

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with a thrilling concert by Charly Lowry, a dynamic singer-songwriter from Pembroke, North Carolina. An Indigenous woman belonging to the Lumbee and Tuscarora Tribes, she considers her work a platform for raising awareness around issues that plague underdeveloped and underserved Native communities. As usual for this series, you'll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

A man poses with a religious icon of Jesus

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Joseph Palackal on Syriac Christian Music

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In the Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus series, we present selected lectures in our Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lectures series that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. In this post, we'll present a classic lecture from 2018: Joseph J. Palackal and his presentation Syriac Chants & Aramaic Christianity in India. As usual for posts in this series, you'll find a lecture video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

A woman with a bass guitar and a man with drumsticks and a traditional rattle

Homegrown Plus: Sihasin’s Music from the Dine Navajo Nation

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with one that slipped through the cracks: a thrilling 2020 video concert by Sihasin, the sibling duo of Jeneda and Clayson Benally. The Benallys are award winning musicians from the Diné Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. The name Sihasin is a Diné word that means hope and assurance, and the music reflects hope for equality, for healthy and respectful communities, and for social and environmental justice. Sihasin combines harmony vocals with bass and drums, in a style rooted in Native, rock, punk and world music. As usual for this series, you'll find a concert video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore. But there's also a bonus this time: Sihasin participated in our 2023 Archive Challenge at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, so we have embedded that exciting video as well. And if that weren't enough, the concert features a real, live horse!

A group of people with musical instruments on a stage

Homegrown Plus: Sones de Mexico Ensemble Concert and Corrido Lecture

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome to Homegrown Plus, Classic Edition! Until 2018, we weren't recording most of our Homegrown interviews on video and we hadn't yet thought of Homegrown Plus. But there are some concert videos from that era that deserve the Homegrown Plus treatment of placing concert videos together with an interview or other related video in an easy-to-find blog post. In this case, we'll feature a classic concert from 2015 featuring the Sones de México Ensemble, along with a lecture on corridos by band member and ethnomusicologist Juan Díes, and a video of the inaugural reading of Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, in which Herrera and Díes performed a corrido composed according to principles outlined in Díes's lecture. 

A woman sings into a microphone

Homegrown Plus: Ladino Songs with Nani Noam Vazana

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with a concert and interview featuring Nani Noam Vazana. Vazana is one of the few 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. Ladino, which traveled to these areas with Jewish communities expelled from Spain in 1492, is very nearly extinct in many places. Nani says her work seeks to capture the spirit of this ancient, matriarchal language and culture and propel it into the 21st century with socially pertinent lyrics addressing themes such as migration, gender, and female empowerment. Nani's goal is to create a bridge between tradition and modern life, capturing the sounds and smells of the marketplace and fusing them with surprising instrumentation and vibrant singing. As usual with Homegrown Plus blogs, you'll find the concert video, an interview video, and a wealth of links to related collections and concerts, all right here in this blog post.

Head and Shoulders portrait of a man

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Barry Jean Ancelet on Theory and Practice of Folklore in Cajun and Creole Louisiana

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In this post, we'll feature a Botkin Lecture classic: Barry Jean Ancelet, Professor Emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, speaking on Theory and Practice of Folklore in Cajun & Creole Louisiana. As usual, this blog features videos of both the lecture and an interview with Barry Jean Ancelet. As you'll hear John Fenn say in introducing our speaker, we have presented many eminent colleagues in the Botkin series, but few of them have made as significant an impact on the documentation, public awareness, and revitalization of their chosen areas of interest as Professor Ancelet has for Cajun and Creole culture in Louisiana. Even fewer of them have been officially knighted by the government of France for their efforts. Those are just a few of the reasons we're delighted to present his lecture in our series.