Singing Out: An Oral History of America’s Folk Music Revivals

By David King Dunaway & Molly Beer

Forward By Pete Seeger

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Look closely at the title. This is an oral history of America’s folk music revivals with an s–three revivals in fact, according to authors David King Dunaway and Molly Beer. The first revival took place in the early part of the 20th century and featured the likes of John and Alan Lomax, Cecil Sharp, Carl Sandburg–a revival fueled by researchers and collectors. Revival number two blew breath into the printed song because of performers like Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, The Seeger family and others, culminating in those last years of the fifties and those early years of the sixties as folk music climbed up the pop charts. The third revival might be a little harder to recognize because it’s happening now–and it’s happening in a swirl of social media, digital connectivity and live concerts and festivals all over the world.

Just click through the dozens and dozens of photographs and concerts clips here on Folk Alley alone and marvel at the young folks with banjos, guitars, jaw bones etc…carrying on old musical traditions and inventing new ones. It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that folk music is more alive and more interesting today than in any other time in history.

The authors of Singing Out: An Oral History of America’s Folk Music Revivals make that case by collecting and presenting oral histories from a diverse group of folk music stake-holders. You will find history in the words of performers like Ry Cooder, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bernice Johnson-Reagon. Other contributors include, Folkways Records founder, Moses Asch, Folklorist, Archie Green, grass roots organizer, Myles Horton, and Sing Out! Magazine editor, Mark Moss. These thoughtful and sometimes lively musings on the music we love cover all three revivals plus some inspiring exploration of the power of song. The authors put the interviews in context with insightful essays and explanations making it a must-read for anyone with even a little more than a passing interest in the folk music being made today.

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