Our latest podcast looks at three “Hidden Folklorists” from Louisiana with special guest Joshua Clegg Caffery from the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. The Hidden Folklorists are Becky Elzy and Aberta Bradford, two spiritual singers who had been born in slavery, but who years later sang over a hundred spirituals for collectors; and E.A. McIlhenny, the head of the Tabasco Sauce company, who first collected their spirituals into a book. We recount details of how a microfilm of unique, unpublished manuscript spirituals by Bradford and Elzy came to be part of the American Folklife Center archive, and how Bradford and Elzy came to be recorded on audio discs for the Library of Congress by Alan Lomax in 1934, with the resulting recordings also coming to the AFC Archive. It’s an amusing story in which the 19-year-old Alan Lomax is forced to leave his father, the seasoned collector John A. Lomax “by the side of the road” and drive 40 miles with the 73 year old Bradford to try to find the 82 year old Elzy so they can sing together for the Library’s recording machine. The episode also presents several of their spirituals, and ends with the very moving recording of two women who had been born in slavery singing “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, got free at last!”
The following is a guest blog post by Candy Martin, US Army Combat Veteran and Gold Star Mother. Watch Candy and three other veterans discuss their role as military mothers in VHP’s Motherhood and the Military panel at: https://go.usa.gov/xHeex There is a difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day. Accept the challenge […]
In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) This time, though, there’s a twist: Ann Yao, who performed in the 2020 series, also presented a Homegrown concert way back in 2011 with the Ann […]
Today the Veterans History Project (VHP) launches a new online exhibit, part of our Experiencing War web feature series. Entitled “Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Veterans,” the exhibit explores the lives and service experiences of 18 Native veterans who served in conflicts from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the treatment of their […]
Yiddish was the common language of Jews who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. It is a German-based language thought to have developed in the 9th century. While all aspects of Yiddish culture, including literature, theater, film, recording, and journalism, existed in robust and diverse forms wherever Ashkenazi Jews lived, it was in […]
We continue the Homegrown Plus series with the duo of Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, who perform their own unusual arrangements of traditional and original Scottish and American folk music on fiddle and cello. Alasdair Fraser has a concert and recording career spanning over 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, radio and television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks, including Last of the Mohicans and Titanic. In 2011, he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Natalie Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, is one of the most sought after cellists in traditional music today, and has performed and recorded with Mark O’Connor, Natalie MacMaster, Irish supergroups Solas and Altan, Liz Carroll, Dirk Powell, Brittany Haas, Darol Anger, Laura Cortese, and many more. Together, the duo of Fraser & Haas has helped reconstruct and revive a longstanding Scottish tradition of playing dance music on violin and cello. For their socially distanced concert, they performed some music solo and some using studio technology to join up separate performances, but most of it is never-before-released concert footage from their archive of pre-pandemic performances. In the interview, we discuss their separate musical histories as well as their 20-year career as a duo.
The January 1941 launch of the Radio Research Project marked the initial foray of the Library of Congress into broadcast media. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and supported by Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish, the project created numerous and diverse radio programs primarily relating to American history and folklore, and utilized groundbreaking recording and production […]
The following is a guest blog post by Rue Mayweather, Army veteran, author and mother. She is one of the participants on the Veterans History Project (VHP) virtual discussion panel, “Motherhood and the Military.” I still recall every detail from the day my bundle of joy arrived. In a moment, everything had changed. I had […]
Season 3, Episode 5 the Folklife Today Podcast is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher. In this episode, which we release at the close of National Poetry Month, John Fenn and I, along with several guests, look at some of the […]
Eva Salina and Peter Stan have played not one but two Homegrown concerts in the last few years…so this blog presents three videos: both concerts and an oral history interview. California-grown, Brooklyn-based Eva Salina is a groundbreaking interpreter of Balkan Romani songs. Raised in the US Balkan Diaspora, Eva’s mentors are some of the greatest living Balkan musicians. Eva’s duo partner, Peter “Perica” Stan, is a Serbian/Romanian Roma accordionist known for his playful innovation and soulful, intuitive improvisations. Together, they played exciting Serbian and Roma music, and told fascinating stories about their lives and musical experiences. Find it all in the blog!