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  • Blue Ridge Institute's Virginia Traditions Series from Smithsonian Folkways Now Available via Digital Retailers (starting May 26)

    This month, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings spotlights the Virginia Traditions series from the Blue Ridge Institute, offering the collection as on-demand CDs or digital downloads via (special package price available), and making it available to digital stores for the first time (starting May 26). Acquired from the Blue Ridge Institute’s BRI Records, the nine albums in the collection feature recordings of Virginia’s traditional music spanning from the 1920s through the 1980s.

    Originally released from 1978 to 1988, the Virginia Traditions series offers a wide variety of African American and Anglo American music that took root and developed in the region, including British ballads, work songs and blues from the 20th, a capella sacred music, and early country. Each album concentrates on particular genres that are prevalent in specific regions of Virginia, evoking a sense of musical community. Though the collection includes classic ballads, blues, and country songs like “John Henry,” “Cripple Creek,” and “Barbara Allen,” and features familiar artists such as the Carter Family and Dock Boggs, Virginia Traditions brings a trove of new musicians and their regional styles to the Smithsonian Folkways catalog. Of this comprehensive series, ethnomusicologist and producer Kip Lornell says, “The Blue Ridge Institute Collection covers the Old Dominion’s musical traditions like no other series could possibly even dream of.”

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    With detailed liner notes from ethnomusicologist Lornell and others, photographs of artists, instruments, and performances, and recordings by a number of engineers and folklorists, including Alan Lomax, the Virginia Traditions series from the Blue Ridge Instituteprovides insight into the rich musical traditions of the state. The collection is available as individual CDs, downloads, and streams at

    Listen to Selections from the Virginia Traditions series here