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Archive: 2024 (46 Posts)

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.

What’s That Smell? Highlighting Cabbage in the Archives

Posted by: John Fenn

This guest post is from Meg Nicholas, as Folklife Specialist on the staff of the American Folklife Center. National Cabbage Day is this Saturday, February 17th. The oft-maligned and overlooked cabbage is loaded in important nutrients, comes in a variety of shapes and colors (did you know there is a purple Napa cabbage?) and aids …