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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

Amra Bosnić

(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 (...

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

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 ...

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

Greg Downey

[Mestre João Grande; dos Santos, João Olivera]

(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 capoeirista, adept at the art’s movements, songs, and instrumental music, especially that of the berimbau, a musical bow. João Grande and three other students accompanied Pastinha to Senegal for the first World Festival of Black Arts in 1966. He later joined Viva Bahia, a folk dance troupe directed by Emília Biancardi, touring Europe in 1976 and was publicly recognized as a successor by Pastinha. In 1990 he moved to New York, where he established the Capoeira Angola Center of João Grande. He has received a medal from the Brazilian ministry of sports (...

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

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.

Born in Bošnjačko maalo, Čair, in a family of musicians (her father Todor Boškov was a gajda player in the ensemble Tanec), her first employment was at the tobacco factory in Skopje. Her first professional performances with the Tanec folk ensemble at the beginning of the 1950s with the songs ‘Niko Meandžiko’, ‘Što imala k’smet Stamena’, and ‘Air da ne storiš majko’ contributed to her engagement as a singer for Radio Skopje in ...

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 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 ...

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

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, 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 Jack Coen, a master flute and whistle player who became her music teacher. Not long after that, the Galway-born musician Sean McGlynn gave Madden a standard orchestral metal flute, rather than the simple-system wooden flutes common in Irish music. Madden learned the instrument, and continues to use this type of flute. She won the All-Ireland championships on flute and whistle in 1983, 25 years after her father had won on the accordion.

Also in 1983, Irish musician Mick Moloney decided to showcase the many young Irish American women who were becoming prominent in traditional music. He asked Madden to be part of the first concert, and she suggested calling it “Cherish the Ladies,” after a well-known Irish jig. Several years later, Madden transformed the group of soloists into a band, which she leads today. Madden has toured the world and appeared on more than 100 recordings, including 13 albums to date with Cherish the Ladies and one album of duets with her father. In addition, she has recorded three solo albums of tin whistle music, whose combined sales make her the best-selling tin-whistle artist in history....

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....