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Homegrown Plus: Kardemimmit

Welcome back to the Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with one of Finland’s favorite folk bands, Kardemimmit. The American Folklife Center was very happy to co-sponsor this concert with our friends at the Embassy of Finland. Kardemimmit is a quartet consisting of Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius, and Leeni Wegelius, four women who sing and play kantele. The kantele is a zither or plucked psaltery, and is the national instrument of Finland. Kardemimmit is considered a pioneering kantele band. The singing and playing in their excellent concert video have a strong foundation in Finnish, Eastern European, and Scandinavian traditions. In our conversation, I spoke with Anna and Leeni Wegelius about Finnish traditional music, the education system in Finland and its support of music, the importance of the kantele, the history of Kardemimmit, and their surprising connection to…The Spice Girls. Enjoy the concert and the interview, plus links to some further Finnish resources you can explore, all in this blog post, published on the anniversary of the concert premiere!

Homegrown Plus: Ranina Quartet

Welcome to the Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with Ranina Quartet, a music ensemble from the Republic of Georgia. The Ranina Quartet was created out of a love for Georgian traditional music, including urban songs, folk songs, and chants. The current members include Tornike Kandelaki (first voice), Soso Kopaleishvili (second voice), Saba Peikrishvili (baritone), and Beka Kemularia (bass). They have been singing since they were little children, and individual members have performed in many ensembles. The quartet’s repertoire includes classic pieces from various genres including Georgian traditional folk songs, liturgical chants, and popular songs. We follow the concert video with two interviews, one with Ranina member Soso Kopaleishvili and the other with ethnomusicologist John A. Graham.

Homegrown Plus: Ialoni

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with the Ialoni Ensemble. This women’s vocal and instrumental group was formed in 2009 in Tbilisi in the country of Georgia. Ialoni’s repertoire draws from all three branches of traditional Georgian vocal polyphony: ecclesiastical, folk, and city music. The group selects its repertoire from archival records and manuscripts, field recordings, and published transcriptions, with a special emphasis on reviving relatively unusual, original, and complex songs. They greatly value the character of different chanting schools, as well as the folk and city songs, originating from different regions, taking the time to comprehend them intimately and then bringing them to life with the ensemble’s own signature style. In the interview you’ll hear about the different types of Georgian polyphonic singing and the repertoires of religious songs, folk songs, and urban songs. We spoke about how Georgians typically learn this music, and where and when they sing and play it. We discuss the concept behind their beautiful concert video as well. We even got a demonstration of some of their favorite instruments. Watch both videos, and find interesting links to more Georgian content, in this post!

Celebrate International Women’s Day with I am Not Invisible 3.0 Women Veteran Panel

The following is a post about the upcoming Veterans History Project (VHP) virtual discussion panel, “I Am Not Invisible 3.0” Women veterans panel discussion.   March is Women’s History Month, a time for the veteran community to draw its attention to the two-million women who wore our nation’s uniform. Women veterans are our family members, friends and […]

“A Central Thread of Our History”: African American Heritage Lasts Longer than a Month

“In the case of American Negroes, their labor founded the nation and was prime cause of the industrial revolution and the capitalist system of the modern world:  their slavery, revolt, escape, protest and emancipation is a central thread of our history: and without their music and laughter American art and literature would never have attained […]

Homegrown Plus: Samite

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. In 2021, we were very proud to present Samite, a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter who was born in Uganda and has lived in upstate New York since the 1980s. Samite left Uganda as a political refugee in 1982. He spent the following few years in Kenya where he studied African traditional musical instruments and rhythms. He mastered the kalimba (thumb piano), marimba (wooden xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan lyre) and various flutes, both traditional and western, and learned both traditional melodies and original compositions. He played with the popular African Heritage Band and the Bacchus Club Jazz Band, and played frequently at the Mount Kenya Safari Club and other leading Kenyan venues. He emigrated to the United States in 1987, and continues to play traditional and original music, as well to compose for film scores. He has released albums on the Shanachie, Triloka, Xenophile, and Windham Hill labels, as has been featured on compilations from Putumayo, Ellipsis Arts, and Narada. In the concert you’ll hear songs and stories of Samite’s African roots. In the interview you’ll hear tales of the refugee camps, his time in Kenya, and his life in America, including the influence of Pete Seeger. Find both videos here in the blog!

Homegrown Plus: Hubby Jenkins

It’s time for another great Homegrown Plus blog! As you may know by now, in this series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the run with Hubby Jenkins, who is an old-time and blues musician living in New York. Hubby is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays guitars, banjos, mandolins, and bones. He has been a member of the Rhiannon Giddens Band, and before that the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Please enjoy his videos in this blog post!

Homegrown Plus: Sean Ardoin

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with Sean Ardoin, an American Creole musician and singer. He is grandson of Louisiana Creole music patriarch Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin, son of Creole accordionist and bandleader Lawrence Black Ardoin, and older brother of hip-hop zydeco accordionist Chris Ardoin, with whom he co-led the Zydeco supergroup Double Clutchin’. The family traces its musical lineage to Bois Sec’s older cousin and musical mentor, Amédé Ardoin, an early recording artist who is one of the most important figures in South Louisiana music. This blog has Sean’s concert and interview embedded, plus a bonus concert of his group Creole United, and a link to his video “What Do You See.”

Homegrown Plus: Reggie Harris

We’re continuing the Homegrown Plus series with Reggie Harris, who is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller on a mission to educate, entertain, and inspire. Many of us here at AFC have admired Reggie for years. In particular, his tours and recordings educating people about the Underground Railroad through song and story have made an important contribution to countless Americans’ understanding of African American history. We knew that Reggie included a lot of traditional songs in his repertoire, from labor songs to spirituals. So we thought it would be fun to ask Reggie to perform a set of mostly traditional songs, including a version of “Free at Last,” inspired by a version in the AFC archive…which made his concert also an example of an artist taking the Archive Challenge. Watch his concert and interview in this blog post!

Homegrown Plus: Jay Ungar and Molly Mason

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re proud to continue the series with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, an American roots music duo based in New York’s Catskill Mountains. They are best known for their work on the soundtrack of Ken Burns’s PBS documentary series, The Civil War. Jay’s composition “Ashokan Farewell” became the musical centerpiece of the Grammy-winning soundtrack and was nominated for an Emmy. Their performance left a lasting impression on everyone who tuned in. Jay’s fiddling is known for playfulness, drama, soul and technical verve, as he explores many musical styles and idioms that he has internalized and made his own. Molly’s inventiveness on piano and guitar supports the tunes and follows the flow of the melody. Her rich and expressive vocals round out the experience of their award-winning concert presentations.