John Jackson (1924-2002) was a fantastic singer and guitarist; he was one of the most significant Black Appalachian musicians to begin his professional career in the 1960s. Less well known than his musical prowess was John Jackson's talent as a storyteller. Although he occasionally worked tales into his concert performances, he particularly loved stories about the supernatural, which he mostly told privately. Luckily, some of these ghost stories were recorded and the tapes are in the AFC archive. In this blog, you'll hear (and read) his version of a story about two preachers who attempt to spend the night in a haunted house. He called it "The Preachers and the Spooks."
It's October, so it's time for a new season of the Folklife Today podcast, and a new Halloween episode! In this Season 5 opener, John Fenn and Stephen Winick talk about the new updated Halloween and Dia de Muertos Research Guide. Then we introduce some of our favorite spooky stories: a witch story told by singer and activist Aunt Molly Jackson from Kentucky, a ghost story told by songster and blues musician John Jackson from Virginia, and the story of Jack O Lantern told by folklorist and International Man of Mystery Jack Santino. And of course we included the stories! Sound good? Very well then...Get your podcast here!
Get ready for two upcoming holidays with the expanded and updated research guide on Halloween and Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) from the Library of Congress! "Halloween & Dia de Muertos Resources" highlights collections from across the Library, including the American Folklife Center, Prints and Photographs, the Hispanic section, Rare Books, Manuscripts, and the National Audio Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC). Items we've added for this year's Halloween season include a player where you can listen to Jack Santino's classic Halloween lecture discussing the deep history of the holiday as well as folktales and other Halloween lore. We've also added: links to notable books to get you started in your Halloween reading; a player to watch the first film version of Frankenstein from 1910; a gallery of classic Dia de Los Muertos posters from the Mission Grafica/La Raza Graphics collection; and links to lots of new content like the witch tales from Aunt Molly Jackson that I blogged about just last week. Find it all at the link in this blog post!
This is the 10th Halloween we have celebrated at Folklife Today with stories and songs about ghosts, witches, spirits, death, and the Devil. As usual, this year we'll feature several Halloween posts leading up to the big day. We're starting with this one, presenting some fascinating belief stories about witches from early 20th century Kentucky. The speaker is Mary Magdalen Garland Stewart Jackson Stamos, known by the professional name Aunt Molly Jackson. In the post, you'll find embedded audio of Jackson telling the stories, along with complete transcriptions of the texts. Happy Halloween!
La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, is a spirit that haunts the folklore of Mexico and other Latin American countries. In some versions she's a ghost, but in others she's an immortal wanderer, not dead but not really alive either. So far in the series, we've introduced the legend, given some of its history, explored songs related to La Llorona, and discussed the story's role in growing up. Now, we present a telling of the tale. The post contains audio and a transcript of a performance by Joe Hayes, one of the best known storytellers from the American southwest. Hayes's bilingual Spanish-English storytelling has earned him a distinctive place among America’s professional storytellers.
Halloween and Día de Muertos are almost here! So, believe it or not, Season 4, Episode 1 of the Folklife Today Podcast, our 2021 Halloween and Día de Muertos episode, is ready for listening! It features interviews about the Weeping Woman, La Llorona, a spirit from Latin American folklore, plus related songs and stories. The people interviewed are Juan Díes, leader of the Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Camille Acosta, who wrote her masters thesis on La Llorona before interning at AFC, and Allina Migoni, AFC's Latinx subject specialist. This blog contains links to download the podcast, background on our guests, and links to full audio of the songs.
This is the fourth blog post in a series about La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, a spirit that haunts the folklore of Mexico and other Latin American countries. We'll present comments on the legend by the writer Rudolfo Anaya, the scholar Domino Renee Perez, our former intern and Llorona expert Camille Acosta, pioneering Costa Rican writer Manuel Argüello Mora, and Esperanza Sernas, a restaurant worker interviewed in 1977 by fieldworker Philip George for AFC's Chicago Ethnic Arts Project. This blog also contains one of the most gruesome traditional descriptions of La Llorona we've seen so far! The whole series will be published in time for Día de Muertos (aka Día de los Muertos) 2021, so stay tuned....
This is the third blog post in a series about La Llorona, the weeping woman who haunts Mexican and other Latinx cultures. The series will be published in time for Día de Muertos (aka Día de los Muertos) 2021. In this post we talk about songs associated with the La Llorona legend. I spend the most time with the traditional song from Oaxaca, which was featured recently at the GRAMMY Awards and in the movie Coco. I also discuss a widespread (and completely different) folksong called "La Llorona" in the son huasteco repertoire, and "La Llorona Loca," a song composed in Colombia that has become a mainstay in Mexican music as well. What all La Llorona songs have in common are the themes of death, remembrance, and mourning, which makes them all appropriate for Día de Muertos or Halloween. We hope this post will be useful in building your own personal playlist for these upcoming holidays.
This is the second blog post in a series about La Llorona, the weeping woman who haunts Mexican and other Latinx cultures. The series will be published in time for Día de Muertos 2021. In this post, I'll show some of the story's long history, especially in Mexico. I'll give links to primary sources from the 1570s showing the story was already present among Indigenous Mexicans at that time and earlier. I'll also present what I believe is new evidence of a strong link for some La Llorona stories with Spain.