The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Entertainment

September 23, 2013

Trove of Mich. folk music unearthed in archive

(Continued)

DETROIT —

The 250 disc recordings of about 125 performers, along with eight reels of film footage and photographs, reflect the rich mixture of cultures in Depression-era Michigan, where immigrants fleeing poverty and persecution in Europe and the South came seeking jobs.

Natives of French-speaking Canada, Finland, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Hungary perform the songs, which represent 10 languages.

John and Alan Lomax's archives at the library's American Folklife Center encompass 10,000 sound recordings and 6,000 graphic images, documenting creative expression by cultural groups around the world.

Most famous were the field recordings made in the South, including those of Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and Son House.

"This fills in a big chunk of the top half of the middle section of the country," says Laurie Sommers, an ethnomusicologist who serves as Michigan's program coordinator for the Lomax project. "Now you have the stories and the sounds of sailors, miners and lumberjacks, ethnic communities who came to work ... and brought their traditions with them."

One example is Exilia Bellaire, a woman from the Upper Peninsula community of Baraga who recorded "I Went to Marquette." It's sung in a mixture of French and English, and Harvey said the song is one of many that "captures (what) occurs when cultures interact with one another."

Lomax's Michigan research proved to be challenging. Thieves twice broke into his car and stole equipment and films, and performers would hound him for money or liquor in exchange for recording them. He frequently requested more money from headquarters, in part, he wrote, because "songs in (Michigan) absolutely require beer."

The recordings weren't released at the time, in part because the late 1930s were a time of growing suspicion of non-English speaking immigrants in the United States, said Sommers.

Text Only
Entertainment
  • NWS - HB0730 - frankton band day - 2 Frankton embraces challenges, advantages to starting Band Day James Handshoe is trying to clear away all the distractions.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0730 Gordon Brooks Berky strives to unite community through the arts His theater was originally going to be a place where he could perform when he’s not on tour, but then actor and mask maker Doug Berky had a bigger idea: Unite the community through entertainment.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0730 - NeverTooLate Portwood tells story of struggles in 'Never Too Late' Former TV personality Amber Portwood, who spent 17 months in prison, unveiled the cover of her forthcoming book, "Never Too Late," this week. The publication date is Aug. 26.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • 'Pawn Stars' TV star plans stores near famous shop

    The long parade of tourists who regularly stop by the downtown Las Vegas shop featured on the History Channel reality show "Pawn Stars" could soon have something better to do while waiting in line.

    July 29, 2014

  • Markleville Jamboree begins July 31 Is your baby the prettiest? Does your pet do amazing tricks? Do you bake, sew, craft? Do you like tractors? If any of this sounds like you, you're invited to join in the contests at the Markleville Jamboree.

    July 28, 2014

  • NWS - HB0728 - Colts Camp - 006 Armed Forces Day at Colts camp pairs Girl Scout cookies with veterans

    Pair Girl Scouts and their world-famous cookies with Armed Forces Day at Indianapolis Colts training camp, and you've got a winning combination. Operation: Cookie Drop, as it's called, is a program where customers buy boxes of cookies for delivery to active and retired military throughout central Indiana.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA-HB0727-MCWinery-JC6.JPG Having a wine time

    Cathy Hensley’s never been much of a drinker. It wasn’t something that interested her very much, so it seemed unfathomable that she would ever run a winery. But after her son Eric offered her and her husband, Duke, some wine he made, it changed things.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0726 - Naturalist Day Camp - JC 5 Mounds camps offer outdoor fun "Can toads go in the pool?" It's one of the many questions Douglass and other interpretive naturalists received during Naturalists Day Camp, the second of three day camps Mounds Park is offering this summer.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_8125.JPG Auction teaches in business, farming

    After 10 years of 4-H, saying goodbye to his animals has become a simple matter for McKennon Heald. But he said he wouldn't be surprised to see some tears from some of the younger participants. He's been there.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 272 Colts fans come from all over Indiana for training camp

    Under bright skies and mild temperatures, Indianapolis Colts fans turned out in droves to witness the first of this year's public practices during training camp at Anderson University's campus on Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos