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Category: Homegrown Plus

A man sings and plays guitar

Homegrown Plus: Work Songs from Maine with Bennett Konesni

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Bennett Konesni, who performs work songs in the context of both farm work and maritime pursuits in his home state of Maine. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Bennett Konesni is a singer, farmer, musician and administrator, based where he grew up in midcoast Maine, and also at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, NY, where parts of his family have lived since 1652. He has been singing work songs while working since he was a teenager on schooners in Penobscot Bay. At Middlebury College, he wrote a thesis based on research into Zulu work song traditions done while studying abroad in South Africa and involving a workshop at the Middlebury College Farm in 2004—one of the first work song workshops on an American farm. After graduating, Bennett studied musical labor on three continents thanks to a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship: musical fishing in Ghana and Holland, singing and dancing farmers in Tanzania, and livestock songs in Mongolia and Switzerland. Since 2007, Bennett has been using work songs at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

Homegrown Plus: Tenzin Choegyal’s Tibetan Music from Australia

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with Tenzin Choegyal, a master musician who is part of the global Tibetan diaspora, based in Australia. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Tenzin Choegyal is a Tibetan/Australian artist, composer, activist, musical director and cultural ambassador. Born to a nomadic family in Tibet, he escaped the Chinese occupation with his family in the early 1970s and was raised in a Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala, India. There, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama actively encourages his people to preserve their culture, Tenzin first began to explore his musical talents. He feels a particular connection to the music of the high Himalayan plateau and, as a son of Tibetan nomads, he remains dedicated to preserving the musical traditions of his ancestors. His collaborative albums include The Last Dalai Lama? with Philip Glass and the 2021 Grammy-nominated Songs from the Bardo with Laurie Anderson and Jesse Paris Smith, which is a moving interpretation of the religious text popularly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Four people with musical instruments

Homegrown Plus: Cambalache’s Mexican American Son Jarocho from California

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with Cambalache, who perform son jarocho music, one of the regional Mexican styles that has become very important to the Chicano community in California. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Cambalache, named for a Spanish word that means "exchange," is a Chicano-Jarocho group based in East Los Angeles. Founded in 2007 and led by Cesar Castro (sonero, maestro and luthier from Veracruz, Mexico), Cambalache plays and promotes traditional son jarocho through performance, music workshops, and educational demonstrations. Son jarocho comes from Veracruz, Mexico, on the gulf coast, a cultural region shaped by Indigenous, African, and Spanish culture. In the spirit of the fandango, a traditional celebration of music and dance, Cambalache engages its audience through participatory performances.

A man plays a guitar.

Homegrown Plus: Martin Carthy, Master Folksinger and Guitarist from England

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with Martin Carthy, one of the best known and most critically acclaimed musicians performing traditional songs in England. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Martin Carthy has been a leading figure in the revival of English folk music since the 1960s. He has been a member of many iconic formations, including the duo of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, the a cappella harmony group The Watersons, the pioneering electric folk-rock groups Steeleye Span and the Albion Band, the groundbreaking folk and brass combo Brass Monkey, and the acoustic folk groups Waterson: Carthy and Wood Wilson Carthy. He is also one of the most influential solo artists in folk music, with a guitar style emulated by practically all English folk guitarists since the 1970s. His versions of many traditional folksongs have become standards in the revival. He has also been influential in America: it was Martin who taught Paul Simon the traditional ballad “Scarborough Fair” in the 1960s. Martin has received every honor and accolade given for folk music in England, and has been awarded an MBE for services to Folk Music, roughly equivalent to receiving a National Heritage Fellowship in the United States.

Five men stand outdoors in front of a door.

Homegrown Plus: Spartimu’s Vocal Polyphony from Corsica

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with Spartimu, a vocal ensemble performing the haunting polyphonic vocal style native to their home island of Corsica. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured group, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. The Spartimu ensemble is devoted to traditional polyphonic singing as passed on in the oral traditions of Corsica. Their style and repertoire are based on deep research into the practice of the singing tradition known as “cantu in paghjella,” which is recognized by UNESCO as an important and endangered tradition (“intangible cultural heritage in urgent need of safeguarding”). The ensemble’s projects also encompass the repertoires of several other countries, stretching from Mediterranean Europe to the peaks of the Caucasus.

Head and shoulders portrait of a man

Homegrown Plus: Shaker Spirituals in Maine with Brother Arnold Hadd, Kevin Siegfried, and Radiance

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing with a program of Shaker Spirituals in Maine with singer Brother Arnold Hadd, composer Kevin Siegfried, and the choral group Radiance. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video, a video interview with one of the singers, and connections to Library of Congress collections.  However, this interview was extensive, and therefore we're presenting it in two separate videos!  We hope that together the videos will give you a deeper understanding of the tradition of Shaker Spirituals.

A woman in elaborate Catrina Calavera (fancy skeleton) makeup.

Homegrown Plus: Mamselle Ruiz’s Mexican Sones from Montreal, Canada

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! Since it's Women's History Month, we thought we'd feature another fantastic woman musician, Mamselle Ruiz! Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Since the interview was conducted in French, this blog also features an English language translation of the interview. Mamselle Ruiz is a Mexican-born singer and guitarist living in French-speaking Montréal. She was raised on all kinds of Mexican music, and she includes traditional Mexican folksongs such as “La Bruja” and “La Llorona” in a diverse repertoire that also includes Son Huasteco classics along with Latin cover songs and her own compositions. This concert features mostly traditional Mexican songs.

Head and shoulders portrait of a woman

Homegrown Plus: Neli Andreeva’s Traditional Songs from Bulgaria

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Since it's Women's History Month, we thought we'd get back into the Homegrown Plus series with Neli Andreeva! Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with the featured performer, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections. Master traditional Bulgarian singer Neli Andreeva grew up in the resort of Narechen in the majestic Rhodope Mountains. She is a soloist as well as choirmaster of the Philip Koutev Folklore Ensemble, and has also been artistic director of the Nusha vocal ensemble. In this concert, Neli performs as a soloist, with choirs, and with instrumental accompaniment, for a varied program of traditional song.

Head and shoulders view of six men, the members of Alilo

Live! At the Library: Alilo’s Vocal Harmonies from Georgia

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Way back in 2022, after the Homegrown Plus Premiere series from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was over, we managed to squeeze one more concert into the Homegrown 2022 season. With support from The Embassy of Georgia and The America-Georgia Business Council, we held a live a cappella holiday concert in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. The group was Alilo, a well known professional vocal ensemble from (you guessed it!) the country of Georgia. This blog presents the concert video, along with photos and links to more Georgian content.