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|Parent company||Smithsonian Institution|
|Founder|| Moses Asch |
|Genre||Folk, Traditional bluegrass, world music|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Location||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Official website|| www|
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987 and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.
The Folkways Records & Service Co., and its music publishing subsidiary Folkways Music Publishers, Inc., were founded by Moses Asch and Marian Distler in 1948 in New York City.Harold Courlander was editor of the Folkways Ethnic Library at the time and is credited with coming up with the name "Folkways" for the label. Asch sought to record and document sounds and music from everywhere in the world. From 1948 until Asch's death in 1986, Folkways Records released 2,168 albums. In December 1950, Folkways Music Publishers, Inc. was acquired by Howard S. Richmond. In 1964, Asch helped MGM Records start Verve Folkways Records which evolved in 1967 into Verve Forecast Records. The Folkways catalog includes traditional and contemporary music from around the world as well as poetry, spoken word, language instruction, and field recordings of people and nature. Folkways was an early supporter of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Lead Belly, who formed the center of the American folk music revival.
Folkways influenced a generation of folk singers by releasing old-time music from the 1920s and 1930s, such as Dock Boggs, Clarence Ashley, and contemporary performers like the New Lost City Ramblers. The Anthology of American Folk Music appeared on Folkways, as did the accompanying album to The Country Blues by Samuel Charters. Folkways was one of the earliest companies to release albums of world music, including the Music of the World's Peoples collection edited by Henry Cowell. It also released many spoken word albums, and other unusual repertoire.The albums came with a pull-out leaflet containing extensive liner notes.
The Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C. acquired Asch's Folkways recordings and business files after his death in 1986. This acquisition was initiated by Ralph Rinzler of the Smithsonian before Asch's death and completed by the Asch Family to ensure the sounds and artists would be preserved for future generations. As a result, it was agreed to continue Asch's policy that all of the 2,168 titles would stay in print indefinitely regardless of market sales. The Smithsonian Folkways website uses the internet to make the recordings available as streaming samples, DRM-free digital downloads in MP3 and lossless FLAC format, and on CDs via mail order.
A complete set of the Folkways recordings was also donated to the University of Alberta where Michael Asch, Moses Asch's son, was an anthropology professor. FolkwaysAlive, a joint initiative between the University and the Smithsonian, is involved in digitization and archiving of the collection as well as maintaining a research center and sponsoring student research scholarships and an annual concert series.
Since acquiring Folkways, the Smithsonian has expanded Asch's collection by adding several other record labels, including Cook, Monitor, Fast Folk, Dyer-Bennet, and Paredon Records. They have released over 300 new recordings.
Smithsonian Folkways states that their mission "is the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948 to document 'people's music.'" They "are dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound", and that "musical and cultural diversity contributes to the vitality and quality of life throughout the world." By making these recordings available, they intend to "strengthen people's engagement with their own cultural heritage and to enhance their awareness and appreciation of the cultural heritage of others."
Smithsonian Folkways has produced or co-produced a number of radio series based on Folkways collections. "The Folkways Collection" and "Sounds to Grow On" are co-produced with CKUA radio; "Tapestry of the Times" was co-produced by WYPR radio; and "Sound Sessions" was produced by the Smithsonian and broadcast on WAMU radio. "Sounds to Grow On" is hosted by Michael Asch, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and the son of Moses Asch.
The Anthology of American Folk Music is a six-album compilation released in 1952 by Folkways Records, comprising eighty-four American folk, blues and country music recordings that were originally issued from 1926 to 1933. Experimental film maker Harry Smith compiled the music from his personal collection of 78 rpm records. The album is famous due to its role as a touchstone for the American folk music revival in the 1950s and 1960s. The Anthology was released for compact disc by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings on August 19, 1997.
Mike Seeger was an American folk musician and folklorist. He was a distinctive singer and an accomplished musician who played autoharp, banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, guitar, mouth harp, mandolin, dobro, jaw harp, and pan pipes. Seeger, a half-brother of Pete Seeger, produced more than 30 documentary recordings, and performed in more than 40 other recordings. He desired to make known the caretakers of culture that inspired and taught him.
Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. It is a part of the Smithsonian's Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, located at Capital Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. The label was founded in 1987 after the family of Moses Asch, founder of Folkways Records, donated the entire Folkways Records label to the Smithsonian. The donation was made on the condition that the Institution continue Asch's policy that each of the more than 2,000 albums of Folkways Records remain in print forever, regardless of sales. Since then, the label has expanded on Asch's vision of documenting the sounds of the world, adding six other record labels to the collection, as well as releasing over 300 new recordings. Some well-known artists have contributed to the Smithsonian Folkways collection, including Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, Woody Guthrie, and Lead Belly. Famous songs include "This Land Is Your Land", "Goodnight, Irene", and "Midnight Special." Due to the unique nature of its recordings, which include an extensive collection of traditional American music, children's music, and international music, Smithsonian Folkways has become an important collection to the musical community, especially to ethnomusicologists, who utilize the recordings of "people's music" from all over the world.
The Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage (CFCH) is one of three cultural centers within the Smithsonian Institution in the United States. Its motto is "culture of, by, and for the people", and it aims to encourage understanding and cultural sustainability through research, education, and community engagement. The CFCH contains (numerically) the largest collection in the Smithsonian, but is not fully open to the public. Its budget comes primarily from grants, trust monies, federal government appropriations, and gifts, with a small percentage coming from the main Smithsonian budget.
Smithsonian Global Sound (SGS) is the digital archive project of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (SCFCH), launched in 2005 by Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Its stated mission is to preserve and disseminate a wide range of the world's music. By making the archives of Smithsonian Folkways and its partner organizations available for online purchase and downloading, Smithsonian Global Sound brings the promotion and preservation of local traditions into the global digital age.
American singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie's published recordings are culled from a series of recording sessions in the 1940s and 1950s. At the time they were recorded they were not set down for a particular album, so are found over several albums not necessarily in chronological order. The more detailed section on recording sessions lists the song by recording date.
The Asch Recordings, recorded between 1944 and 1949, are a series of albums featuring some of the most famous recordings of US folk musician Woody Guthrie. The recordings were recorded by Moses "Moe" Asch in New York City. The songs recorded by Asch comprise the bulk of Guthrie's original material and several traditional songs. They were issued on a variety of labels over the years under the labels Asch, Asch-Stinson, Asch-Signature-Stinson, Disc, Folkways and Smithsonian Folkways. The tracks for Guthrie's Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child and Nursery Days were from these sessions.
Richard Kurin, an American cultural anthropologist, museum official and author, is the Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research at the Smithsonian Institution. He is a key member of the senior team managing the world's largest museum and research complex with 6,500 employees and a $1.4 billion annual budget, caring for more than 139 million specimens, artifacts and artworks, working in 145 countries around the globe, hosting some 30 million visitors a year, and reaching hundreds of millions online and through the Smithsonian's educational programs and media outreach. Kurin is particularly responsible for all of the national museums, scholarly and scientific research centers, and programs spanning science, history, art and culture.
Jim Garland was a miner, songwriter, folksinger, and folk song collector from the coal mining country of eastern Kentucky, where he was involved with the communist-led National Miners Union (NMU) during the violent labor conflicts of the early 1930s called the Harlan County War.
Moses Asch, often known as Moe Asch, was a Polish-American recording engineer and record executive. He founded Asch Records, which then changed its name to Folkways Records when the label transitioned from 78 RPM recordings to LP records. Asch ran the Folkways label from 1948 until his death in 1986. Folkways was very influential in bringing folk music into the American cultural mainstream. Some of America's greatest folk songs were originally recorded for Asch, including "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie and "Goodnight Irene" by Lead Belly. Asch sold many commercial recordings to Verve Records; after his death, Asch's archive of ethnic recordings was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, and released as Smithsonian Folkways Records.
Folkways: The Original Vision was released in 1989 and is the first album created by Folkways Records under new acquisition by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage following the death of the record label's founder, Moses Asch. Funds were raised for the acquisition of the label to be established as a non-profit entity in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution by the collaborative recording A Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and U2. Folkways: The Original Vision was digitally remastered and re-released in 2005 by Folkways Records.
My Dusty Road is a 4 CD box set of Woody Guthrie music containing 54 tracks and a book. It is a collection of the newly discovered Stinson master discs. It was released by Rounder Records in 2009.
Stinson Records was an American record label formed by Herbert Harris and Irving Prosky in 1939, initially to market, in the US, recordings made in the Soviet Union. Between the 1940s and 1960s, it mainly issued recordings of American folk and blues musicians, including Woody Guthrie and Josh White.
Kenneth S. Goldstein was a prominent American folklorist, educator, record producer, and a prime mover in the 1960s American Folk Music Revival.
Trouble in Mind is an album by American blues musician Big Bill Broonzy. It was released on February 22, 2000 by Smithsonian Folkways. The album consists of traditional folk, blues, and spiritual songs featuring Broonzy accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and a guest appearance by Pete Seeger. Suffering from cancer, Broonzy realized his time was limited and hence recorded extensively between 1956 and 1957. While most of the work draws from the album Big Bill Broonzy Sings Country Blues (1957), arranged by Moses Asch and Charles Edward Smith, Trouble in Mind is also sourced from concert broadcasts and interviews recorded late in Broonzy's career.
Jeff Place is the Grammy-award-winning Archivist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He and Anthony Seeger were the first two full-time employees hired in 1987 when the Smithsonian acquired Folkways Records from the estate of Folkways founder Moses Asch.
Negro Folk Songs of Alabama is a series of six records put out by Moses Asch and Harold Courlander on Folkways Records in the 1950s. The recordings include traditional African American music forms such as field calls and work songs. The recordings have subsequently been reissued. The Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C. acquired Asch's Folkways recordings and business files after his death in 1986.
Lead Belly Sings for Children is a compilation album by American folk and blues singer Lead Belly. It was released in 1999 by Smithsonian Folkways.
Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Fishes is a 1998 compilation album by Pete Seeger and was released on Smithsonian Folkways as SFW45039.
Gazette, Vol. 1 is a studio album by American folk singer Pete Seeger. It was released in 1958 by Folkways Records. It was later re-released by Smithsonian Folkways. The album artwork is by Antonio Frasconi and the design by Ronald Clyne.