The Folkways Legacy

In 1987, following the death of Moses Asch, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC acquired Folkways Records. Continuing the original tradition, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings publishes new music and sound recordings by and for people everywhere, including new compilations using original Folkways material, and annually produce an average of 20 albums documenting grassroots traditions and genres from around the world. For almost twenty five years they have maintained the Folkways catalogue and made every original recording available to the public. A review of Smithsonian Folkways releases makes clear the importance of the original Folkways covers. Many of these releases feature designs and artwork patterned after the original Folkways "look." Smithsonian Folkways has preserved the extensive collection of designs, prints, photographs, and production materials, both for archival purposes and for creative reworking in the production of new albums. In keeping with Asch's vision, Smithsonian Folkways carries on a deep appreciation for the historical and artistic importance of the many creative individuals-artists, photographers, and designers-who visualized the Folkways world of sound.

 
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The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover

FW02433
1961
John Cohen
John Cohen
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In My Dear Old Southern Home — The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover

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This album produced by Mike Seeger includes, in its liner notes, an essay on bluegrass music and biographical sketches of the musicians. The cover photograph and design is by John Cohen. Seeger and Cohen – musicians themselves and members of the New Lost City Ramblers – introduced numerous traditional musicians to Folkways.

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The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover

SFW40158
2005
Sonya Cohen Cramer
John Cohen
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In My Dear Old Southern Home — The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover

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This Smithsonian Folkways reissue truly represents continuity in cover design. Sonya Cohen Cramer has subtly redesigned the 1961 Folkways cover for CD format, making use of the original cover photograph and design by her father--musician, ethnographer, and photographer, John Cohen.

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Where Did You Sleep Last Night?

SFW40044
1996
Fritz Klaetke, Visual Dialogue
Charles Peterson
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Irene (Goodnight Irene) — Lead Belly

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The compelling cover photograph is as much a portrait of Lead Belly's twelve-string guitar as it is of this iconic artist. The photographer, Charles Peterson, photographed many famous, mostly jazz musicians during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

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Mary Lou's Mass

SFW40815
2005
Sonya Cohen Cramer
Patrick Hinely
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Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy) — Mary Lou Williams

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Mary Lou Williams, a very spiritual and caring woman, composed sacred music in the jazz idiom in her later years. In 1960, she founded the Bel Canto Foundation in Harlem to help musicians in distress. The cover photo by Patrick Hinely captures the depth of her passion for the music.

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Heart Beat: Voices of First Nations Women

SFW40415
1995
Watermark Design
Shan Goshorn
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Northern Lights — Crying Woman Singers

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The evocative cover brings together earth, sky, and drummer in an image that conveys the spirituality of the music. The heartbeat rhythms of the drum, evoked by the luminescent instrument and hands of the shadowy musician, are echoed by the orb in the sky.

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Tuva

SFW40452
1998
Scott Stowell, Open Studios
Ted Levin
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Xöömei on Horseback — Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Anatoli Kuular

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The animal images, superimposed on a photograph of the landscape, are petroglyphs from cliffs on the banks of the Yenisei River in Tuva. The dark, floating spirit-like animals embody the essence of the recording.

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The Heart of Cape Breton

SFW40491
2002
Sonya Cohen Cramer
Gary Samson
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The Way to Judique / Compliments to the Boys of the Lough(Frank Ferrel) / The Canadian Club Jig (Frank Ferrel) / The Hills of Glenorchy / Walking the Floor (medley) — Buddy MacMaster, fiddle; Joey Beaton, piano

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This photograph echoes the title in conveying the central place of fiddling in Cape Breton music. The fiddle, lovingly cradled in the musician's hands, is the heart of the cover.

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The Silk Road

SFW40438
2002
Sonya Cohen Cramer
Ted Levin
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Shushtari — Hasan Kasa'i

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Producer Ted Levin's evocative photograph draws the viewer into the vast sinuous landscape of Central Asian nomads, which together with the urban centres of high culture, creates the rich musical amalgam captured on this landmark world music recording.