Folklife Today tells stories about the cultural traditions and folklore of diverse communities, combining brand-new interviews and narration with songs, stories, music, and oral history from the collections of the Library of Congress's American Folklife Center.
Ukrainian Traditions at the American Folklife Center
In this episode, hosts John Fenn and Michelle Stefano, with guest Thea Austen, explore Ukrainian materials in the American Folklife Center Archive. Interview segments include a discussion of Ukrainian embroidery and dance, between Geraldine Johnson and Taissa Decyk; and a discussion of a Ukrainian family bandura band who immigrated to the United States as refugees in the late 1940s, between Stephen Winick and Julian Kytasty. Musical selections include a song with bandura accompaniment by Kytasty and a set of instrumental tunes by Gerdan ensemble. More information on the performers and the selections can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.
A Tribute to Irish American Women
In this episode, hosts Stephen Winick and John Fenn, with guests Betsy Peterson, Jennifer Cutting, and Melanie Zeck, explore songs and music from Irish American women in the American Folklife Center archive. Performances include Maggie Hammons Parker singing “Ireland’s Green Shore,” Hattie Scott Gould playing “The Irish Washerwoman” on the fiddle, May Mulcahy playing “Nori from Gibberland” and “Put Your Little Foot Right There” on the concertina, Carrie Grover singing “Arthur McBride,” Eileen Gannon playing “O’Carolan’s Receipt” and “Niall Gannon’s Favorite” on the Celtic harp, and Liz Carroll and Tommy Maguire playing a set of reels on the fiddle and the accordion. More information on the performers and the selections can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.
Songs of Spring
In this episode, hosts Stephen Winick and John Fenn, with guest Theadocia Austen, talk about songs of springtime, from agricultural and pastoral songs about farms and flowers to love ballads…and one dance tune. They also play the songs, including Pearl Nye’s version of “Early in the Spring,” the Copper Family’s rendition of “When Spring Comes On,” Baptiste Pierre’s version of the Haitian song “Fleurs, Certaines Jolies Fleurs” Rubén Cobos’s version of the alabanza hymn “El Alba,” Warde Ford’s version of “Nightingales of Spring,” and the Chicago Zither Club’s “Spring Polka.” More information on the songs can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.
La Llorona: Looking at a Ghost Story for Día de Muertos and Halloween
This episode examines the story of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman of Mexican and Latin American ghostlore. Hosts Stephen Winick and John Fenn discuss Winick’s research into the legend for the Folklife Today blog, and interview three guests. Camille Acosta, who wrote a thesis about the Llorona legend, talks about her research and the meanings the story has for kids and adults. Allina Migoni, the Latinx subject specialist for the American Folklife Center, talks about the importance of the La Llorona story for Mexican and Mexican American identity, as well as the connections between La Llorona and La Malinche, the enslaved Indigenous woman whose work as a translator helped Hernán Cortés conquer Mexico. Juan Dies speaks about La Llorona songs, as well as the figure of La Llorona in Mexican pop culture. More information on the songs as well as photos of some the singers and links to all the archival sources, can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.
The 2021 Homegrown at Home Concert Series
This episode looks back at the 2021 Homegrown at Home Concert series. Hosts John Fenn and Stephen Winick interview the series producer Theadocia Austen and folklife interns Kennedi Johnson and Camille Acosta. The participants talk about the series as a whole, and each picks one or two songs for us to hear. The episode contains songs from Neli Andreeva (Bulgarian traditional song), Brother Arnold Hadd and Radiance Choir (Shaker hymn), Martin Carthy (English ballad with guitar), harbanger (turntable septet hip-hop composition), Samite (Ugandan song with African lyre or litungu), Hubby Jenkins (Blues with guitar), and Mamselle Ruiz (traditional Mexican song with small ensemble). More information on the songs as well as photos of some the singers and links to all the archival sources, can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.
Summer Songs Part 2
This episode continues our look at songs about summer, from the amorous adventures of young lovers to the backbreaking work done by convicts in the sun. Hosts John Fenn and Stephen Winick, along with guest Jennifer Cutting, present their favorite summer songs. Songs include the English “Sweet Primroses;” the Trinidadian “One Fine Summer’s Morning” and “June Come, You No Marry;” the Tuvan “In Summer Pastures;” the African American work song “Worked All Summer Long;” and the Basque “When the Sun Shines Everywhere, How Good the Shade is!” More information on the songs as well as photos of some the singers and links to all the archival sources, can be found at https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife.