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Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 2, 1929; d Përmet, Jan 26, 2014). Albanian folk music performer. A clarinettist and vocalist, nicknamed ‘Përmeti’s nightingale’, founder of the instrumental iso-polyphonic group (saze ensemble) in the Southern town of Përmet (1944–2004). At a young age, he showed a special ability to design and make instruments. He was taught to play the lute and the clarinet by the ...

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Laurence Libin

(b Jirapa, Ghana, June 22, 1958). Ghanaian xylophone maker, player, and teacher. Born into a family of gyilli makers and players in northwest Ghana, Doozie began playing at six years of age. When he was 12 his father taught him to make his first ...

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Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...

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Stephen D. Winick

(b Hatboro, PA, July 1, 1969). Traditional Irish musician, composer, and bandleader. Egan’s father was from County Mayo, Ireland, and the family moved there when Séamus was three. He took music lessons with Martin Donaghue, a button accordion player from Ballindine. Seeing the flutists Matt Molloy and James Galway on television encouraged him to play the flute, and he began competing in the All-Ireland championships on flute and whistle. In ...

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Paul Yoon

(b Los Angeles, CA, April 2, 1953). American taiko artist. Of Japanese American descent, he studied drumming, especially jazz and rock, from an early age. He first experienced taiko in the early 1970s and joined Kinnara Taiko in 1975. His interest in taiko was fueled by an emergent sense of his ethnic identity. He went on to study with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in ...

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Greg Downey

(b Itají, Bahia, Brazil, Jan 15, 1933). Brazilian teacher and master practitioner of capoeira angola. After migrating from rural Bahia to Salvador, he learned capoeira in the Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola under the legendary mestre Vicente Ferreira Pastinha. Influenced also by such veteran practitioners as Cobrinha Verde and Barbosa, he became a widely respected ...

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Stephen D. Winick

(b Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 29, 1917; d San Francisco, CA, March 22, 2009). Folklorist, music scholar, and labor activist of Canadian birth; naturalized American. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, Green worked as a road builder, a firefighter, a shipwright, and a carpenter, and joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Green enrolled in graduate school in ...

Article

Jada Watson

(b Seguin, TX, July 6, 1953). American country/folksinger-songwriter. She grew up in a musical home, began playing guitar at a young age, and started writing songs at the age of six. When she was 14 she began performing in honky-tonks. After college Griffith taught kindergarten by day and performed in honky-tonks at night. It was not until ...

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Brenda M. Romero

(b Costa de la Palma Ranch, nr Alvarado,Veracruz, Mexico, July 2, 1942). Mexican singer and traditional musician. Together with brothers Felipe and Marcos Ochoa (originally from Rancho de Zacaiste, Veracruz), José Gutiérrez (originally from Costa de la Palma) has performed traditional music of the Mexican state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico for over half a century. As a child he learned to play the ...

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Paula J. Bishop

Hawaiian hula school in Hilo, Hawaii. Founded in 1953 by Edith Kanaka’ole, the school has been instrumental in the preservation and dissemination of hula and chant practices associated with Pele, the goddess of fire. Knowledge about these traditions was passed down to Kanaka’ole through matrilineal descent for at least seven generations, and she in turn instructed her own daughters, Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka’ole, who inherited the school in ...

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Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Skopje, Macedonia, Dec 21, 1923; d Skopje May 4, 2001). Macedonian folk singer. Her recognizable, very expressive, nasal mezzo-soprano voice, praised for its pureness, its precision, quality, and rich ornamentation, brought her the attribute ‘The Uncrowned Queen of Macedonian Folk Song’. Sharing her professional career and celebrity status with the first generation of singers performing for Radio Skopje in the 1950s and 60s, she is among the singers who influenced the interpretational model of the repertory of traditional Macedonian music....

Article

Alexander M. Cannon

(b Savannakhet, Laos, 1947). Laotian composer and singer. He began his musical training by studying Lao folk songs with Buddhist monks. Before age 20, he already had garnered a reputation as a creative maulam, or narrative singer of lam (or lum)—a genre of traditional vocal music from southern Laos of solo or male–female repartee singing accompanied by ...

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b New York, NY, July 13, 1965). American traditional Irish fiddler, banjo player, and bandleader. Eileen Ivers was raised in the Bronx by Irish parents. She took up the fiddle at age nine, taking lessons with Irish fiddler Martin Mulvihill. She began competing in the All-Ireland championships as a teen, and ultimately won 35 championships, including nine solo fiddle titles and a tenth on tenor banjo, making her the most successful American-born competitor in the All-Ireland’s history....

Article

Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Sarajevo, Yugoslavia [now Bosnia and Herzegovina], 1925). American singer and guitarist. Growing up in a Sephardic Jewish community, she learned Balkan folklore as well as traditional songs in the Ladino language with guidance from her grandmother. In 1946 she married a serviceman and immigrated to the United States, where she has become known as the Flame of Sephardic Music because of the strength of her commitment to this unique musical heritage. In addition to transcribing, performing, and teaching traditional Ladino material, Jagoda has composed and arranged new Sephardic songs. She also has performed material drawn from biblical verses, poems, and prayers. She has recorded several albums, which often recall her early experiences, including ...

Article

Sisters Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele (b Keaukaha, HI, 14 Sept 1937), writer, teacher, and producer, and Nalani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele (b Hawaii, 19 March 1946), choreographer and teacher, are the daughters of Edith Kanaka‘ole, famed chanter and kumu hula (master teacher) of Hilo, Hawaii. After Edith’s death in ...

Article

Vera H. Flaig

(b Balandugu, Guinea, West Africa, 1950). Drummer, director, and teacher of Guinean birth. Mamady Keïta began his official apprenticeship with the village djembéfola at the age of eight. By his late teens, he was lead drummer of Ballet D’Joliba. By 22 he became the company’s first drummer to act as artistic director. Upon his retirement from the ballet in ...

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Melanie Maldonado

Plena and bomba group. Los Pleneros de la 21 (LP21) have the distinction of being the longest-running group to specialize in performing Puerto Rican Plena and Bomba in the continental United States. Since 1983, this New York City-based, intergenerational group has taken these traditional genres from their local New York community to the international stage. The group has produced five albums that both celebrate traditional AfroPuerto Rican music and fuse it with other genres of their urban soundscape. LP21 was founded in the South Bronx by National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutierrez-Rodriguez and contemporaries who included Edgardo Miranda and Eugenia Ramos. Other luminaries who contributed to the evolution of the Grammy-nominated group include famed plena musician (plenero) Marcial Reyes and the distinctive bomba musician (bombero) Roberto Cepeda, a member of one of Puerto Rico’s premier musical families. The members of LP21 are more than musicians and dancers; they are educators and cultural activists who invest their time into their local community by providing workshops for children and adults in the historic community of El Barrio in Manhattan. Today LP21 boasts a membership and group of alumni that includes some of the most well respected pleneros and bomberos in the United States and Puerto Rico....

Article

Kate Dunlay

(b Antigonish, NS, Feb 24, 1975). Canadian fiddler, pianist, composer, and singer. During his early years, he was immersed in the Scottish-derived traditional music of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He took up the fiddle (which he plays left-handed) at age eight. MacIsaac studied under Stan Chapman along with sister Lisa, cousin Wendy MacIsaac, and neighbor Natalie MacMaster, all of whom are now well-known fiddlers....

Article

Kate Dunlay

(b Inverness County, NS, June 13, 1972). Canadian fiddler, composer. She was raised on Cape Breton Island, in a household and a community full of traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. She learned to step-dance from her mother and she often incorporates step-dancing into her performance as she fiddles. Her fiddle style is strongly influenced by her uncle, Buddy MacMaster; both play with strong accents and the impeccable timing, drive, and lilt of dance fiddlers....

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b New York, NY, May 26, 1965). American traditional Irish musician and bandleader. Joanie Madden was born to Irish parents in the Bronx. Her father Joe, an accordion player from Galway, recognized her talents early, singling her out from among his seven children for music lessons. After trying fiddle and piano, she discovered the tin whistle. Madden lived near ...