Folkways means that “everything occurring on the earth and in the contemporary time is being recorded. Folkways is a record company to describe the human race, the sound it makes, what it creates.”
Music for Children and for Learning
Who Goes First? ¿Quien Va Primero?
The cover is a finely textured photograph by David Gahr of a young girl striking a playful pose. She looks ready to join in the counting-out rhymes heard on the recording.
Songs to Grow On for Mother and Child
This luminous photograph by David Gahr conveys the intimacy between a mother and her baby. The first of a series, the album contains playfully instructive songs by Woody Guthrie about everyday activities, such as bathing, eating and playing, meant to amuse and stimulate the imagination of very young children. The liner notes include drawings by Guthrie.
Songs to Grow On, Vol. 2
Artfully stylized to resemble children's drawings, the cover by Rosenhouse shows children playing alone and together, fittingly illustrating the songs on the record. Part of the iconic series of folk music for children, these songs, performed by renowned folk artists, are among the best-known and most beloved children's songs still sung today.
Songs to Grow On, Vol. 1: Nursery Days
This volume of Songs to Grow On contains nursery songs that Woody Guthrie sang to his own daughter. The cover drawing by David Stone Martin shows three children, each one taller than the next, with the tallest having "grown" right out of the frame of the picture.
Old Timey Songs for Children
This cover shows a photograph of two young boys playing harp and fiddle. Their old-fashioned formal dress and caps are in keeping with the "Old Timey" music on the album, which features songs meant to entertain children and adults alike.
The Story of Jazz
The cover illustration by Carlis is in a style typical of children's educational material produced in the 1950s. The drawing of two distinct bands - one in formal dress, the other in vivid turquoise jackets - suggests the wide range of jazz styles as presented on the album. The recording was narrated by Langston Hughes and is based on his book of the same title.
Woody Guthrie's Children's Songs
Although best known for his songs, Woody Guthrie was also a prolific writer and artist, illustrating countless of his own stories and songs. The drawing for this collection, with the bright red background, swinging hammer, and modest little house, is typical of his style--cheerful, animated, and accessible.
Songs of Camp
This cover design by Robert Mentken features an engaging photo of two young boys enjoying the intimacy and fun of summer camp. The camp songs on the recording were chosen to evoke and spread that joy. The selection of the cover image of the two boys arm in arm, was a bold anti-segregationist statement in 1959.
Jambo and Other Call and Response Songs and Chants
One of many recordings that Ella Jenkins made for Folkways, this album is based on Tanzanian call-and-response songs. Jambo means "hello" in Swahili. Photographs by Bernadelle Richter document Ella Jenkins's visit with Tanzanian children and the American children's group "Choir in Training," which performs with her on the album.
Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Bigger Fishes
This imaginative children's album cover by John Carlis shows a collection of playful animals arranged in tic-tac-toe formation. The curvilinear typography resembles a child's handwriting. Carlis illustrated many of Folkways earliest covers, especially, but not exclusively for the childrens series. His simple, straightforward designs evoke folk art and children's art.
Children's Game Songs of French Canada
This album cover features another Rosenhouse image, dominated by vivacious black pencil lines drawn on a glowing pink background, outlining, shaping, and filling in spaces to create four lively children huddled in play and laughter.
The Story of the Klondike
Iconic Canadian Pierre Berton records his well-known narrative of the Yukon goldrush, taken from his book on the subject. Berton, born and raised in the Yukon, is pictured in the foreground of this cover. Behind him is a drawing by "MacPherson," taken from the book and showing a cortege of gold seekers who are crossing a valley to meet up with others in the mountain pass encampment.
The Violin, Vol. 5
This abstract cover design visually complements the twentieth-century modernism, sonically represented in the experimental and avant-garde music for violin, that is played by renowned Canadian violinist and composer Hyman Bress.
The cover presents two guitars in juxtaposition: David Stone Martin's stylized drawing and David Gahr's photograph. The images are united visually by the reiterated curves of the instrument. The album, characterized as "an informal survey of several basic types of folk guitar accompaniment styles," demonstrates the tunings and picking styles of folk and blues musicians, such as Elizabeth Cotten, Merle Travis, Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly, Maybelle Carter, and Woody Guthrie.
The cover photograph focuses all attention on the source of the music: the blues musician's mouth in contact with the harmonica. The blue background underscores the subject at hand.
Traditional Cajun Fiddle
The photograph conveys the pleasure of two people making music together. Dewey Balfour's appearance at the 1964 Newport Folk Music Festival, where this photo may have been taken, introduced Cajun fiddle music to a very enthusiastic audience. This reception inspired him to promote Cajun music back home in Louisiana, where it had almost disappeared.
The Mama-Likembi Instructional Record
The cover is a photograph of the Likembi-Mbira, built by African-American composer and jazz musician, Nadi Qamar, who created this instructional record for both the instrument and the African music that he composed, performed, and taught in America.