(b Vranje, Serbia, June 11, 1897; d Feb 21, 1969). Serbian singer (pesmopojka) and song writer. She was one of the most prominent performers of the 20th-century Serbian and Balkan urban vocal tradition. Widely known as a veseljak (lively character), she was respected for her fidelity to local traditions, for her intensely expressive and nuanced vocal style, and for her dedication to bring out the meaning of the texts she sang. She started singing at a very early age; as a young girl she was paid for her singing. She sang in her own home on everyday occasions, to guests, and at family and public celebrations. Her repertory encompassed love, family, and narrative songs, mainly concerning specific events, places, and personalities of Vranje. She is the author of the song ‘Dimitrijo, sine Mitre’, one of the hallmarks of Vranje vocal tradition, which traces its roots in tradition found in written sources from the late 19th century onwards and still practiced today....
(b Kuršumlija, Serbia, 1966). Bosnian and Herzegovinian composer. She graduated with a degree in composition from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1991), in the class of josip magdić, after which she gained the Master of Composition (2004) under the mentorship of composer dejan despić. Her first position was at the Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Valjevo, Serbia (1992–2000). She returned to Eastern Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work as an Associate Professor of Harmony and Harmonic Analysis.
Dutina’s compositions reflect her interest in Balkan folklore, mostly of a rural-vocal type, and in the formal and harmonic devices associated with neoclassicism. She has composed solo songs, chamber music, symphonic works, vocal-instrumental music, choral music, music for children, and film music.
Dutina also cherishes folkloric vocal traditions through her engagement as founder and artistic director of the female vocal ensembles Rusalke (...
(b Durrës, Albania, Jan 20, 1914; d Tirana, Albania, March 30, 1977). Albanian folk music researcher and composer. Born into an intellectual family, he studied music in Bucharest (1936) and later Milan (1939) before returning to Albania during World War II. Initially, Dheri was appointed music instructor at the high school in Shkodra, where he organized small ensembles and choral groups following the war. In 1949, he was transferred to the Committee for the Arts and Culture in Tirana and, in 1953, to Radio Tirana. During this period, Dheri contributed to the Radio’s sound archives, collected and transcribed folk pieces, created pedagogical texts, and composed light popular waltzes, tangos, and foxtrots. His primary contribution followed his appointment to the newly formed Institute of Folk Culture in 1968. As an editor and the founding director of the national archives for folk music, Dheri oversaw the publication of early systematic collections including ...
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 ...
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 1981 his family returned to the Philadelphia area, and he met mick Moloney , who mentored him on mandolin and banjo. Egan continued to compete in the All-Ireland championships, and by the age of 14 he had won titles on four instruments.
Egan has recorded albums as a solo artist and with Moloney and the fiddler Eugene O’Donnell. In the 1980s he joined Moloney’s ensemble The Green Fields of America, and he appears on some of their recordings. In ...
(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, ...
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 khene and oftentimes a small ensemble. He later studied composition and performance and was employed in 1965 by the Department of Lao National Fine Arts. In 1968, he entered the army and worked as a singer for the National Radio Broadcast. After the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975, he worked at the military radio station singing propaganda songs. In 1979, he escaped to Thailand, and in 1980, immigrated to the United States, first living with his cousin, Bountong Insixiengmay, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He soon relocated to Minneapolis—a city with a large population of Lao émigrés—and in ...
Paula J. Bishop
(b Kohala, Hawaii, 1716; d Kauhola, Hawaii, 1784). Hawaiian poet and chanter. He served as a poet to several Hawaiian chiefs, including Kalani’opu’u, chief of the leeward side of the island of Hawaii. During a period of unrest and rivalry among island chiefs, Keaulomuku was able to travel among the warring factions because of his reputation as a gifted and important composer of chants. He was fluent in many forms of chant, including genealogical, war, praise, and love chants, but achieved much of his fame for his prophetic chants, particularly those involving the warrior Kamehameha. The chant “Haui Ka Lani,” probably composed in 1782, describes the civil war among the chiefs and islands and foretells of Kamehameha’s victory over the warring factions. In “Au’a ‘Ia,” composed shortly before his death in 1784, Keaulumoku predicts Kamehameha’s conquest and unification of the islands, but he also foretells of the early decline of the dynasty and the gradual extinction of the Hawaiian people....
Robert B. Winans
[Toney, Lemuel Gordon ]
(b Richmond, VA, Oct 17, 1870; d New York, NY, July 29, 1941). American minstrel and vaudeville performer and composer. He served in the army from 1895 to 1898. He also attempted to become a professional baseball player in Baltimore, and it is said that he became a minstrel after George H. Primrose saw him entertaining the other players in the clubhouse, having failed to make the team. He then went to work for Primrose and West’s Minstrels, where he changed his name and soon became a star performer. He played in vaudeville until that form declined in the late 1920s, then occasionally appeared in nightclubs; he also performed in a number of Broadway shows. Leonard wrote many of his own songs, including his first hit “Just because she Made them Goo-goo Eyes,” “Roll dem boly boly eyes,” “I lost my Mandy,” and his most famous song, “Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider” (...
(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 Hi™ How Are You Today...
(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...
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....
Barbara L. Tischler
(b Louisville, KY, Oct 20, 1877; d Louisville, KY, Feb 24, 1919). American composer and folksong collector. She had no formal training as a composer. At the suggestion of May Stone of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County (Kentucky), she spent the summer of 1914 in Knott and Letcher counties transcribing folksongs and tracing their origins to English and Scottish ballads. By her own description the people of the area called her “the strange woman huntin’ song-ballets.” She published Folk-songs of the Kentucky Mountains (1917, repr. 1922, 1926, 1937), in which 13 of the 20 songs are traced to precursors in Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–98). At a time when many American composers turned to folk music as the source of a distinctive voice, McGill’s activities contributed to the search for an American national music. Among her own compositions are the songs “Duna, when I was a little lad” (...
Laura Otilia Vasiliu
(b Reuseni, Suceava county, Romania, May 2, 1944). Romanian composer, musicologist, and teacher . Rooted in the folklore of Bukovina and in Byzantine liturgical music, furthering the musical environment of his predecessors Ciprian Porumbescu and George Enescu, his works stand at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, having become established through their authentic expression and mastery of form. His personality has been influential in the musical life of Iaşi and the George Enescu University of Arts, which he served as a professor, dean, and rector.
He studied at the George Enescu Conservatory in Iaşi. He graduated in pedagogy and composition under Vasile Spătărelu. He attended composition classes led by Ştefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, and Anatol Vieru at the Vacanţele muzicale de la Piatra Neamt (‘Musical Holidays of Piatra Neamţ’, 1972–80), and then he studied with Roman Vlad at the Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome (1980). Up until ...
(b Ostrava, 7 June 1953). Czech folk singer, poet, and composer. After completing his studies at Gymnasium (1971) and at a school of librarianship, he entered the field of popular music as a writer of lyrics (he has written song texts principally for singers from Ostrava). As a guitarist, violinist, flautist, and accordionist he is entirely self-taught. In the 1980s he began to appear at Czech festivals of folk music, singing songs of his own with their distinctive texts. Gradually he has become one of the most popular of Czech singers. He mainly sings his own songs, but also translations of songs by the Russian composers Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzha, and settings of the poems of Aleksandr Blok. He has set, and sung, poems by the Czech poets Petr Bezruč and Jiří Šotola. His songs owe their popularity largely to the fact that he sings of ordinary people living ordinary lives; they are lyrical and epic, and often ironical and extremely funny. Nohavica is fond of using the dialect of the Ostrava and Těšín region. He has also produced successful translations of opera libretti for works performed at the Ostrava Opera (for example, Mozart’s ...
(b Oceanside, CA, Feb 20, 1981). American mandolinist and singer. Learning bluegrass mandolin as a child in Southern California, he began his musical career with a victory at the Walnut Valley Mandolin Championship at age 12, an appearance as part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Youth All-Stars also in 1993, and his first solo album Leading Off (Sugar Hill) the following year. His band Nickel Creek, which included Sean Watkins (b Vista, CA, 18 Feb 1977) on guitar and Sara Watkins (b Vista, CA, 8 June 1981) on fiddle, performed throughout the 1990s and released their eponymous album on Sugar Hill in 2000. Produced by Alison Krauss, the album established a number of musical hallmarks for the band: polished vocal harmonies, contemporary songwriting, and virtuosic, progressive-bluegrass-oriented instrumental work.
During his tenure with Nickel Creek, Thile pursued a variety of solo projects, including collaborations with Mike Marshall and Béla Fleck. After achieving an unusual degree of commercial success for a bluegrass-related band, Nickel Creek ceased touring and recording in ...
Laura Otilia Vasiliu
(b Sibiu, Romania, March 27, 1940). Romanian composer, professor, and musicologist of German ancestry. His works are inspired by the folklore and academic art of the Transylvanian Saxons, while also manifesting a moderate tendency to assimilate modern idioms. Published especially by German and Swiss houses, his compositions gained him international prestige within German-language circles. Additionally, he pursued his vocation as a researcher by analysing the works of J.S. Bach and of Transylvanian musicians, especially Gabriel Reilich and Paul Richter. He studied at the Conservatory of Cluj (1959–65) with Sigismund Toduţă (composition), Cornel Tăranu (harmony), and Vasile Herman (musical forms). He took the Ph.D. in musicology from the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca (1978) with a thesis called Contradominanta în creaţia lui W.A. Mozart (‘The Counter-Dominant in the Works of W.A. Mozart’). As a professor in the harmony/composition department of the Cluj-Napoca Conservatory, Türk developed significant treatises and courses, including the book ...
Travis D. Stimeling
(b Fort Worth, TX, March 7, 1944; d Mount Juliet, TN, Jan 1, 1997). American folk singer-songwriter. The descendent of prominent Texans on both sides of the family, he lived in Texas, Montana, and Illinois as a child. From 1960 to 1962 he studied at Shattuck Academy (later called Shattuck School), a military school in Faribault, Minnesota, where he developed a passion for poetry and folk music. During his brief university studies, he played at folk clubs in Boulder and Houston. In 1963 his parents committed him to a psychiatric hospital, where he underwent three months of electric- and insulin-shock therapy to treat manic depression.
Between 1965 and 1968 he played regularly at the Jester Lounge, Sand Mountain Coffeehouse, and the Old Quarter in Houston and the 11th Door in Austin. There, he became a leading exponent of the region’s singer-songwriter community, which included Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, K.T. Oslin, and Mickey Newbury. During this period Van Zandt wrote many of his best-known songs, including “For the Sake of the Song,” “Waitin’ around to Die,” and “If I Needed You.” In ...
revised by Travis D. Stimeling
[Crosby, Ronald Clyde ]
(b Oneonta, NY, March 16, 1942). American folk and country singer, guitarist, and songwriter. A high-school dropout, he traveled around the United States playing banjo, guitar, and other instruments and singing a repertory consisting principally of songs by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Jimmie Rodgers. By the early 1960s, he was performing at Greenwich Village folk clubs and on college campuses across the country, finding particular success among Texan audiences in Houston, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Austin. In 1966, while in Austin, he met Bob Bruno, with whom he formed the folk-rock band Circus Maximus; it recorded an album for Vanguard in 1967.
Around the same time, Walker also earned success as a songwriter, notably with “Mr. Bojangles” (1968), a hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971. Also in 1971, Walker relocated to Texas, where he became a luminary in Austin’s emerging progressive country music scene. In ...