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Article

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 saze masters in the city of Korçë. Then his family returned to Përmet, where he joined the saze of Vangjel Leskoviku (1944). At Përmet, he organized his own saze and participated in the Folk Music Festival in Tirane (1952), where he was awarded the First Prize for the best folk clarinettist. His saze was composed of a clarinet, two lutes, two accordions, a frame drum, and a violin. The saze played instruments and sang at the same time. He is a composer of songs, clarinet ...

Article

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 gyilli and he was a practised maker by age 15. After secondary school Doozie moved to Accra to become a xylophonist with the Ghana Dance Ensemble. He was also an instructor at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Among other appointments, he has performed with the National SO Ghana and has been associated with the Institute of African Studies and the music and performing arts departments of the University of Ghana. In 1990 he established a workshop to produce xylophones; he made the xylophones used in the Broadway production of The Lion King. He has also restored instruments in museum collections. He continues to teach and perform and is managing director of Dagarti Arts and Music in Accra and a member of the Arts Council of Ghana. He is also involved in promoting fair trade practices. Doozie’s xylophone bars—from eight to 18 for each instrument—are made of aged, fire-dried planks of wood from male shea trees. Gourd resonators are affixed under the bars, which are tied to the curved frame. The tips of the wooden beaters are padded with rubber recycled from tyres....

Article

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 ...

Article

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 1976. Endo felt that it was important to emphasize the Asian aspects of his heritage, and to this end he traveled to Japan in 1980. For the next decade he studied kumi daiko (ensemble drumming), hogaku hayashi (classical drumming), and matsuri bayashi (festival drumming), and he became the first non-native to receive a natori (stage name), Mochizuki Tajiro, in hogaku hayashi. While in Japan, he studied with and was a performing member of Oedo Sukeroku Taiko and Osuwa Daiko. He moved to Honolulu 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 1977 that she decided to pursue a career in music. She self-promoted her first two albums at folk festivals and formed her own backing band, the Blue Moon Orchestra. In 1987 she landed a recording contract with MCA Nashville and made her major-label debut with the critically acclaimed album Lone Star State of Mind, charting a single with the title track. The album also featured Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance,” which has become Griffith’s signature tune. After several unsuccessful albums Griffith transferred to MCA’s pop division in 1989 and recorded her first pop-oriented album, ...

Article

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 arpa jarocha, the jarana, and the requinto, instruments of the emblematic regional music, son jarocho. His professional musical career began as a teenager in Boca del Río, Veracruz, in the early 1970s, when he performed with Lino Chávez in the Conjunto Medellín and learned the skills of a lead singer, the pregonero (“caller”). As pregonerohe acquired the ability to lead a call and response with the audience, and to improvise verses that comment on the immediate situation at hand or people in attendance. Performances playing the ...

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.

During the 1980s, Ivers was a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, played with Mick Moloney’s ensemble The Green Fields of America, and toured and recorded in an influential duo with accordionist John Whelan. In 1990, she was invited to record and tour with the pop duo Hall & Oates, which she did for over a year. She then returned to New York, where she immersed herself in the multicultural music scene. In ...

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 Memories of Sarajevo (1996) and Kantikas di mi Nona (Songs of my Grandmother) (1996). She also published The Flory Jagoda Songbook: Memories of Sarajevo (1996), which includes songs and stories about her family history. She is featured in the documentary ...

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 1986, Keïta played briefly for the national ballet in Côte D’Ivoire before settling in Belgium where he founded an international djembé school called Tam Tam Mandingue.

Keïta came to live in the United States in 2004. At his first official workshop as an American resident, Keïta announced: “I spent fifteen years cleaning up the djembé drumming in Europe. Now it is time to do the same in America.” Despite the growing popularity of the djembé, Keïta was surprised by the lack of understanding about its history and music within American drum circles. Keïta, together with six other ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

revised by Michael Ann Williams

(b Point Leavell, KY, July 13, 1895; d Springfield, OH, Sept 23, 1989). American country and folk music performer. Raised in Garrard County, Kentucky, Kincaid absorbed the religious music and ballad traditions of his family. He learned to play on a guitar his father reputedly acquired from trading a dog, and his “hound dawg” guitar became his trademark throughout his career. Kincaid dropped out of school after fifth grade and later resumed his education at Berea College Academy, completing high school at age 26. At Berea, Kincaid began to systematically collect ballads and other forms of traditional music. After graduation, he married his music teacher, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. Kincaid relocated to Chicago to attend the YMCA College and there auditioned with a college quartet at WLS, a local radio station. Kincaid, “the Kentucky Mountain Boy,” soon became a hit with his clear tenor and his rendition of traditional ballads such as “Barbara Allen.” By the early 1930s, Kincaid was one of the most popular radio performers nationally, and he augmented his radio salary with songbook sales and live performances. He also he recorded prolifically for Gennett, Brunswick, ARC, Decca, RCA, and others. He worked at radio stations in Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and Wheeling with his partner ...

Article

Kate Dunlay

(Dwayne )

(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.

In 1992 the teenaged MacIsaac released his first album, Close to the Floor. That same year he was invited to New York by theater director JoAnne Akalaitis to play in one of her husband Philip Glass’ works. Through this connection, MacIsaac eventually met and worked with Paul Simon and his wife Edie Brickell, as well as David Byrne. Over the years Glass has involved MacIsaac in other projects, such as Orion (recorded 2005).

The release of the innovative album HiHow Are You Today...

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.

MacMaster recorded her first album, Four on the Floor (1989), at age 16. No Boundaries (1997) marked the beginning of MacMaster’s foray into a wider world of fiddling and more complex arrangements. MacMaster has worked with top musicians in various genres: Canadian Maritime, Irish, bluegrass, Latin-Flamenco, classical, and jazz. However, MacMaster also continues to release traditional albums such as My Roots are Showing (1998), and Natalie & Buddy MacMaster...

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b New York, NY, Dec 21, 1951). American traditional Irish accordionist and composer. He began playing the button accordion in his native Brooklyn, at six years old. Two of his uncles were musicians, and his mother encouraged him to take up playing. At age 15 he met the Galway-born accordionist Sean McGlynn, who became his teacher and mentor. In the 1970s he relocated to Maryland, where he began playing with the Washington, DC area band The Irish Tradition, which also featured Brendan Mulvihill and Andy O’Brien. In 1986 he won the all-Ireland championship for button accordion and he and Mulvihill won for accordion/fiddle duet.

Since the 1980s McComiskey has been part of the touring ensemble The Green Fields of America. In the 1980s he formed the Baltimore Ceili Band, a loose group of musicians that congregates for festivals, parties, and community events. The Ceili band has helped revitalize the Irish music scene in the Baltimore area. In the 1990s McComiskey founded the band Trian, with Liz Carroll and Dáithí Sproule, and toured and recorded with them. He has also played and recorded with the Pride of New York....

Article

Stephen D. Winick

[Michael ]

(b Limerick, Ireland, Nov 15, 1944). traditional Irish singer, mandolinist, banjo player, and bandleader of Irish birth. Moloney became interested in traditional Irish music as a university student. He began bringing his banjo and a tape recorder to music sessions in County Clare, where he met members of the Tulla Ceilidh band, as well as accordionist Tony MacMahon, fiddler Sean Keane (who would later join The Chieftains), banjo player Des Mulclair, and uilleann piper Willie Clancy. Inspired by the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners, he and his friend Donál Lunny formed several folk groups. In the late 1960s, Moloney, along with his roommate, guitarist and singer Paul Brady, was asked to join the folk group the Johnstons, which performed a combination of traditional Irish songs and modern singer-songwriter material by such writers as Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. They became immensely popular in Ireland, recorded many albums, and were able to tour widely on both sides of the Atlantic....

Article

Stephen D. Winick

(b Northampton, England, July 12, 1954). traditional Irish fiddler of English birth. He was born to Irish parents and moved with them to New York in 1965. His father, the fiddler Martin Mulvihill of Ballygoughlin, Co. Limerick, was the best known Irish music teacher in America from the early 1970s until his death in 1987 and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1984. Mulvihill learned to play fiddle from his father in the Bronx and by 1972 was accomplished enough to win the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship. In the mid-1970s he moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. He formed the group the Irish Tradition with Billy McComiskey and Andy O’Brien, and they became the best known Irish group in the area. In the 1980s he also worked with the touring ensemble the Green Fields of America. He has recorded albums as a soloist, as a member of the Irish Tradition, and as a duo with the pianist Donna Long. Mulvihill is known for his technical virtuosity on the fiddle; he also invented a new ornament in Irish music, an unusual innovation. He has continued to play fiddle in Maryland and has followed in his father’s footsteps to become one of the area’s most respected and sought-after fiddle teachers....

Article

Megan E. Hill

[Seisho ]

(b O’ahu, Territory of Hawai’i, Feb 12, 1912; d Honolulu, HI, March 19, 2011). American sanshin player. Born in Hawai’i to Japanese immigrant parents, he was taken by his mother to her native Okinawa to be raised by his grandparents. There at the age of nine he began playing the Okinawan sanshin. The sanshin is a three-stringed instrument with a skin-covered soundbox, which predates the similar Japanese shamisen. He was given a sanshin by his uncle—also an accomplished player of the instrument—when he returned to Hawai’i in 1925 and began formal instruction in 1933, taking lessons from a number of sanshin grand masters and visiting Okinawa whenever possible. For the next six decades Nakasone performed sanshin at gatherings for the Okinawan community in Hawai’i, playing for festivals and various celebrations. He also taught sanshin in college classes and gave private lessons, led the Okinawan classical music ensemble Seifu Kai, and became the first non-Japanese citizen to receive a teaching certificate from the nationally recognized Nomura Music Academy in Okinawa. Nakasone was on the ethnomusicology faculty at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, from ...

Article

Paula Conlon

[‘Doc’ Tate ]

(b Fletcher, OK, July 3, 1932; d Lawton, OK, March 5, 1996). Native American (Comanche) maker and player of juniper flutes. He attended the Fort Sill Indian School and Haskell Indian Institute. He learned flute making from the Kiowa maker Belo Cozad (1864–1950) and the Lakota maker Richard Fool Bull (1887–1976). He used the traditional method of splitting the wood, carving the channel, boring the holes, and inserting the plug, then gluing the flute back together with sap, binding it with leather thongs, and attaching the external block. His first album, Indian Flute Songs from Comanche Land (NAM 401C, n.d.), was the first commercial recording consisting entirely of music for solo Indian flute. He introduced new playing techniques, including cross-fingerings to extend the range, and extending the warbling sound on the lowest tone to all the available pitches, thus expanding the flute’s repertoire and contributing to its revival in the latter 20th century. Tate (the English name given to him) was recognized as a National Heritage Fellow in ...

Article

Vasil S. Tole

[Lulushi ]

(b Korçë, Albania, March 23, 1954; d Korçë, April 23, 1990). Albanian folk clarinettist . Master of the iso-polyphonic repertory associated with Korçë during the second half of the 20th century. Lulushi grew up in a family of folk music performers, and he began to play folk instruments such as accordion and clarinet at a very young age. His grandmother, Qerime, was a singer of the Korca saze in the 1930s. As a member of the Ensemble Skënderbeu (1978), Lulushi performed dozens of instrumental iso-polyphony pieces of southeast Albania. His saze was composed of 2 clarinets, 1 violin, 1 quena, 2 lutes, 1 accordion, and 1 frame drum. Lulushi has been appreciated as one of the top folk clarinettists of Korçë folk music. In addition to dozens of great performances already known as ‘…of Lulushi’s clarinet’, he has also contributed to the golden fund of instrumental music, with what is known as ‘Lulushi’s Kaba in Sol’ (...

Article

S. Timothy Maloney

(b Larraga, East Galway, Ireland, Sept 27, 1926; d Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, Sept 13, 2011). Irish flute, tin whistle, and uilleann pipes player. A leading exponent of the East Galway lyrical style, he learned flute and pipes from his father Tom (“Barrel”), local flutists Jack Coughlan and Tom Broderick, and radio broadcasts and recordings of flutists Stephen Moloney and Tommy Whelan of the Ballinakill Céilí Band. He began playing at house parties and dance halls as a youth, and by his late teens was a member of the Ballinakill Traditional Dance Players and the Killimor Céilí Band.

Rafferty immigrated in 1949 to the United States, where he worked in blue-collar jobs and played little music for a decade. In about 1959 he began playing again with other Irish expatriates and was invited to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976. Beginning in the late 1970s, he toured with the Green Fields of America, and his playing was included on two albums of field recordings, ...

Article

David Royko

[David Anthony ]

(b Danville, VA, June 8, 1951). American guitarist and singer. Influential in bluegrass, newgrass, and jazz-inflected new acoustic music, Rice was strongly influenced by Kentucky Colonels/Byrds guitarist Clarence White. Raised in Los Angeles, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1970 and joined Bluegrass Alliance at invitation of mandolinist Sam Bush after meeting in a jam session. In 1971 he joined J.D. Crowe and the New South, appearing on their acclaimed eponymous Rounder LP, often referred to by its catalog number “0044.” In 1975 he returned to California and joined the David Grisman Quintet, an instrumental ensemble; he appeared on their eponymous album (Kaleidoscope, 1977). In 1979 he left Grisman to focus on his solo career, ultimately releasing more than a dozen albums (primarily on Rounder). As leader of the Tony Rice Unit, he emphasized instrumental new acoustic music, dubbed “spacegrass” by Rice, while albums released under his name typically included vocals and relatively straight bluegrass and singer-songwriter material. His exploration of the music of other songwriters, most notably Gordon Lightfoot, established Rice as a major vocalist in bluegrass and acoustic folk music before health problems curtailed his singing. From ...