Cajun musicians. On 27 April 1928 Joseph Falcon (b nr Robert’s Cove, LA, 28 Sept 1900; d Crowley, LA, 19 Nov 1965; accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter) and his wife Cléoma (b Crowley, LA, 27 May 1906; d Crowley, LA, 9 April 1941; guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) became the first musicians to record a commercially released Cajun music record. They recorded for Columbia with Cléoma on guitar and Joseph on accordion and vocals. Their first album featured “Lafayette” and “La valse qui ma portin de ma fose” [La valse qui m’a porté dans ma fosse]. They subsequently recorded more songs for Columbia as well as for Decca until Cléoma’s death in 1941. Many of these recordings became part of the core repertoire of Cajun music as it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. Partly due to the impact of their early recordings, and also as a result of their musical talents, Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were among the most popular and influential Cajun musicians of that formative period. They shared vocal duties, with Joseph singing mostly traditional Cajun material, and Cléoma singing both traditional songs and Cajun French translations of American popular tunes, such as “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Cléoma, who was the sister of active Cajun musicians Amédé, Ophy, and Clifford Breaux, was especially renowned for her soaring, soulful vocal style. Joseph, on the other hand, had a keenness for improvising new arrangements for older traditional songs. After Cléoma’s death Joseph continued to perform, eventually with his second wife Thérèse playing drums. He produced one additional recording, a live performance at the Triangle Club in Scott in ...
Barry Jean Ancelet
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....
Ring shout performers. The group formed in the Bolden community of McIntosh County on the coast of Georgia to promote the survival of the Ring shout —the oldest African American performance tradition in North America. The group performs after church worship services and on special occasions at a local church, Mt. Calvary Baptist. Because of space limitations in the sanctuary, an annex was built behind the church to accommodate performance of the ring shout, which employs call-and-response singing, percussive rhythm, and expressive and formalized dance-like movement in a counter-clockwise ring. Presumed to have died out in the 20th century, the tradition was rediscovered in 1980 when the group consented to perform at the Sea Island Festival on St. Simon’s Island in Glynn County, Georgia. The repertory is often Biblical in nature and consists of a special song type, at one time called a “running spiritual,” and believed to be a precursor to the Negro spiritual. In ...
Nancy Yunwha Rao
Instrumental ensemble founded in 1984 by Susan Cheng in New York’s Chinatown. It features Chinese instruments including erhu, yangqin, zheng, pipa, daruan, sanxian, sheng, and dizi. Its members have included Wu man , Tang Liang Xing, and Min Xiao Fen, among others. Performing at museums, schools, and other venues, it has specialized in silk and bamboo music of southern China but has also performed contemporary music. Its concerts from 1990 to 2002 included excerpts or full-staged performances of Cantonese opera. At its height the ensemble performed 100 concerts a year; in the early 2010s it was averaging 50–60.
Music from China has commissioned and performed many new works. By 2011 it had premiered 132 new works by 81 composers, including the winners of its annual international composition competition. In 1987 Chen yi and Zhou long joined Music from China as music directors and composed many significant works for the group. From ...
Jay W. Junker
Hawaiian music group. Playing traditional songs and traditional-sounding originals on acoustic instruments, and leaving plenty of room for instrumental soloing, the Sons of Hawaii played a key role in the modern renaissance of Hawaiian music. They also helped revive interest in the music of the mid- to late 19th-century Hawaiian monarchy era.
Led by Eddie Kamae, the group developed a guiding concept from the jam sessions that have always been popular in Hawaiian communities. Group cohesion comes from establishing rapport rather than strict rehearsal. Hula rhythms and a delicate lap steel guitar are central to their arrangements. Many artists have passed through the ranks, but three incarnations have been most prominent. The first formed in 1959 with Kamae (ukulele/vocals), Gabby Pahinui (slack key guitar/vocals), David “Feet” Rogers (steel guitar), and Joe Marshall (acoustic bass/vocals). Their debut at the Sandbox nightclub in 1960 attracted huge crowds, and their first album in ...