A Woman to Know: Sidney Robertson Cowell
|Julia Carpenter||Oct 10, 2016|
I was curious about American folk song — what was American about it? — Sidney Robertson Cowell
(image via The Library of Congress)
Sidney's titles were numerous: song catcher, folk collector, music ethnographer, traveling recorder. For 20 years in the early 20th century, she road tripped across the country with her recorder, leading a WPA team of fellow music enthusiasts. You can listen to the full catalogue of their "catches" — from small town theaters, big city venues, church choir rehearsals, tribal dances, prison cafeterias and more — in the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture.
Toward the end of her life, she took her trusty recorder on a trip through Europe and Asia, bringing back songs from Gaelic fishermen, Iranian vocalists and Pakistani music groups to share with her fellow Americans — many of whom had never before been exposed to folk culture outside their own. Thanks to Sidney, now we can listen to both.
Add to your library list:
Folksongs of Another Era (James P. Leary)
The Archive of Folk Culture (Sidney Robertson Cowell)
New Musical Resources (Henry Cowell)
Sidney, 92, Ethnomusicologist and Teacher (The New York Times)
Documenting California songs and communities (The Library of Congress)
Celebrating the Midwest's Multi-ethnic Heritage (The Huffington Post)
The ethnographic experience (Iowa News)
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