Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2019, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Archive challenge smapler photo

Coolidge Auditorium

For the past few years at the Folk Alliance International conference, the American Folklife Center has been organizing “Archive Challenges,” at which we ask an array of different folk musicians to learn material from AFC’s archive and perform it in a special showcase. Last year we brought this program here to the Library of Congress, and now we're doing so again!  For this edition, AFC has invited 4 distinguished artists to dig deep into our archive and put their own creative stamp on the songs and tunes they found here. Each of the artists will perform a few songs from the archive to show what a tremendous resource it is for creative work.

Established at the Library in 1928, the AFC archive contains everything from the first wax cylinder recordings of Native American song, to John and Alan Lomax’s pioneering disc-era recordings, to recent digital documentation of folk concerts of all kinds. Best known performers in the Archive include Muddy Waters, Pete Seeger, Honeyboy Edwards, Woody Guthrie, Aunt Molly Jackson, Lead Belly, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, and Jean Ritchie… and soon, the performers in this showcase! 

The Artists

Seán Heely is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion as well as an award-winning Irish Fiddler. He also plays in Classical, Bluegrass, and Gypsy Swing styles. Seán performs locally with the bands Skylark and Glencoe Lads. He holds a degree from University of South Carolina in Classical Violin Performance, and was a 2019 Artist in Residence at Strathmore Music Center in Maryland.  Seán has performed with traditional music icons such as Irish fiddle legend Liz Carroll, acclaimed Scottish fiddler Pete Clark, cello virtuoso Natalie Haas, and uilleann piper Paddy Keenan. A composer and arranger, Seán has won national awards including the 2016 Scottish Fiddling Revival’s Tune writing competition.  Sean was featured on the cover of Fiddler Magazine's Winter 2018 Issue. Recently, he received the first annual Claude Martin Memorial Life Membership Award from the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, an honor granted in recognition of his significant contributions to the local folk scene while still under age 30. He is a musical ambassador for the British Embassy Scottish Affairs Office and the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington.

Chao Tian is a leading performer on the Chinese dulcimer, the director of the artistic committee of the Chinese Music Society of Greater Washington, an alumnae of the prestigious Artist in Residence program at Strathmore Music Center, and a leader of “Always Folk” ensemble. Chao Tian has established a career as a soloist, educator, advocate, and composer in traditional Chinese music and other genres. As a lecturer at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) and a former member of the world renowned Twelve Girls Band, she worked many years in the discipline of musical and cultural exchange. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in Musical Performance from the China Conservatory in 2010. As an ambassador of art and culture, she had performed in over 30 different countries and regions across the globe and she has collaborated with numerous acclaimed musicians in many unprecedented projects that explore connections between the musical traditions of China and the rest of the world. Her music reflects her role as a leader of a younger generation of Chinese musicians, and her understanding of traditional and contemporary music, from the east to the west.

The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices ensemble is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions–presenting songs and stories of struggle and perseverance, trials and triumphs, as expressed through a cappella music, drama and dance. Inaugurated in 2010, the group now performs regularly at heritage sites throughout the Washington DC area, singing, sharing, and learning the stories of the people in those communities. Along with the music, Jubilee Voices also explores the poetry and writings of the period, along with first- and third-person portrayals of African Americans whose stories are a vital contribution to American history.

Kumera Zekarias is a multilingual singer-songwriter, producer, and the bandleader of Kino Musica--a five-piece band based in DC. Originally from Austin, Texas, Kumera’s diverse and reflective music is rooted in the soulful expression of blues and the bilingual traditions of the Southwest. Kumera started Kino Musica in 2014 to explore his own East African musical heritage. Recently he has conducted ethnomusicological research about the relationship between the music of the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and Afro-Colombian music from the Pacific. He recorded an EP in Bogota, Colombia in late 2018, which is slated for release in the fall. For the Homegrown Concert Series, Kumera (electric guitar & vocals) has invited local performers fluent in Ethiopian and Afro-Colombian music: his band members, Frederick Green (bombo) and Besufekad Tadesse (clarinet & backing vocals); and solo artists Thalib Razi (violin & backing vocals), Munif Mesfin (vocals), and Habtamu Negash (electric bass).

Photos Courtesy of the Artists

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.