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Category: Homegrown Plus

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 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 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.

Homegrown Plus: From China to Appalachia with Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Chao Tian

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome back to Homegrown Plus! We're continuing the series with a concert and interview featuring Grammy Award winning American Roots artists Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer together with accomplished Chinese classical hammered dulcimer player Chao Tian. The trio's repertoire includes traditional Chinese and Appalachian music as well as contemporary and traditional music from around the world. They use instruments that include yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer), gourd banjo, five-string banjo, ukulele, guitars, dumbek, cello-banjo and mandolin, employing them in unusual combinations to create exciting new arrangements of old music. Cathy and Marcy join Chao in singing Chinese songs, and Chao easily adds her love of American Old-Time music to fiddle tunes and songs. 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. 

Five musicians play piano, upright bass, recorder, two fiddles, and a mandolin

Homegrown Plus: Spaelimenninir’s Scandinavian Folk Music

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In April 2023, the American Folklife Center hosted a Homegrown concert here at the Library of Congress featuring Spælimenninir, a Scandinavian folk music ensemble based in the Faroe Islands. Spælimenninir likes to say their music is as familiar as an old time barn dance and as exotic as the landscape of the Faroe Islands, the band’s home in the North Atlantic. Spælimenninir’s repertoire is music of the Nordic countries drawing on traditions centuries old and compositions new as today. The current line-up of Spælimenninir includes one native Faroese, three Danes, and two Americans, who sing and play many instruments, including fiddle, recorder, piano, guitar, mandolin, nyckelharpa, and acoustic bass. The multinational background of the members and combination of instruments make the music unique; no other band in the world sounds like Spælimenninir. The sound reflects each member’s heritage and illustrates the links between the music traditions of the Scandinavian countries and the United States, and we were very pleased to feature them in the Homegrown concert series. Like other blogs in the Homegrown Plus series, this one includes a concert video and a video interview with some of the performers, plus links and connections to Library of Congress collections.

Portrait of singer Nani Noam Vazana

Homegrown Artist Nani Noam Vazana Interviewed

Posted by: Stephen Winick

On Thursday, September 14, at Noon Eastern Time, in LJ-119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building (10 First Street SE, Washington DC), we will host a special concert with Nani Noam Vazana. Vazana is one of the only 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. We held our usual interview with Nani in advance, through the magic of internet communications, which means you can watch it now! In case you're still deciding whether to come to her concert, you should hear her tell her story and see if she can convince you! As she revealed to me, she was born in Israel to parents who had emigrated from Morocco. Her father, wishing to leave the past behind, forbade the Ladino language in the house--but her grandmother didn't have to obey. She learned some Ladino from her grandmother, and, more importantly, heard her singing Ladino songs. Years later, on a trip to play at a jazz festival, she heard a Judeo-Spanish singer in Morocco, which set her on a new path of researching Ladino songs and eventually composing her own. Of course, that's only the bare bones of the story, and Nani tells it much more fully, as well as discussing her music, her career, and her plans for the future. Watch the interview in this blog post!