Artist Spotlight

Featured Articles on Smithsonian Folkways Artists

Kheng Sonam Dorji Kheng Sonam Dorji Within Bhutan, the central Zhemgang district is one of the more remote and inaccessible areas. Sonam Dorji grew up...

Dave Van Ronk Dave Van Ronk Called the “Mayor of MacDougal Street,” Dave Van Ronk was a fixture in the Greenwich Village music scene for decades...

Tony Schwartz Listening to the City
Quite simply, Tony Schwartz was the second greatest sound recordist in American history...

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912-67) was one of the most important folk composers in American history. "This Land Is Your Land" is...

Henry Jacobs He’s been called a legend, a visionary genius, and a “wizard of oddsville [who] confronts the challenges of satire and sound.”...

Ronald Clyne Transparency as authenticity? As Richard Carlin has noted in his book, Worlds of Sound, there was something different about a Folkways record...

¡Cimarrón! ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia The cimarrón is the bull that knows no rope, corral, nor iron, the steer that has not been lassoed nor branded...

Remembering Hazel Dickens On April 22, our dear friend Hazel Dickens passed away. Hazel was one of the most important bluegrass singers of the last fifty years...

Ella Jenkins A Life of Song The legacy of Ella Jenkins is a musical one. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1924, she spent her childhood on the south side of Chicago...

Elizabeth Mitchell Keeping Things Simple Elizabeth Mitchell, singer, songwriter, and music educator, was born in New York City in 1968...

Mary Lou Williams Jazz for the Soul The music poured from the piano. On a large platform inside the oval mahogany bar at New York’s Hickory House...

Irwin Silber A Life of Advocacy, Activism, and Service Irwin Silber’s life was characterized by an abiding commitment to social justice, fundamental economic and political change...

El Rey de Alburquerque Roberto Martínez and His New Mexican Mariachi: A Transnational Legacy In New Mexico, the name Roberto Martínez is...

John Jackson Rappahannock Blues Blues artist, songster, and storyteller, John Jackson was the most important black Appalachian musician...

Rainbow Artists Biographies and media about the artists on the album Rainbow...

Samuel Gesser Samuel Gesser was best known across Canada as an impresario, a man who produced more than six thousand folk, classical, pop music, dance...

The New Lost City Ramblers The New Lost City Ramblers pioneered the renaissance of southern mountain music that grew out of...

Los Texmaniacs Borders y Bailes The accordion-driven conjunto tejano and its music emerged from the rural, small-town life of the Rio Grande Valley...

Los Camperos de Nati Cano Win 2009 Grammy Award In February 2009 Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano won the Grammy for best Mexican regional...

Pete SeegerStanding TallPete Seeger has had a long and productive career as a folk song leader and social activist...

Tom Wisner Bard of the Chesapeake When one hears the phrase "think globally, act locally", there was no better embodiment of that thought than the late Tom Wisner...

Dewey Balfa Master of cajun music An impassioned ambassador for Cajun music and culture, fiddler and singer Dewey Balfa (1927-1992) was...

Elizabeth Cotten Master of American folk music Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (1895-1987), best known for her timeless song "Freight Train,"...

Luiz Bonfá Brazilian Bossa Nova Guitarist A musician of virtuosity, subtlety, and passion, guitarist Luiz Bonfá (1922-2001) ranks...

Walter "Furry" Lewis Rural blues performer Walter "Furry" Lewis (1893-1981) personified the relaxed and intimate character of the early blues...

Ella Jenkins The First Lady of Children's Music "You'll sing a song and I'll sing a song, and we'll sing a song together." That is what Ella Jenkins has...

Joseph Spence Bahamian master guitarist Sometimes one performer's unique style is so compelling that it influences an entire generation of artists...

Los Camperos de Valles Trío huasteco Since the group's inception, Los Camperos de Valles have come to represent the best in one of Mexico's most...

Ana Veydó Colombian joropo vocalist The plains region is home to one of Colombia's most prominent and engaging musical traditions...

Mike Seeger American Folk Revivalist and Historian For over fifty years, Mike Seeger has been a musician, documenter, and tireless advocate of the early folk...

Nati Cano Mariachi band leader Natividad "Nati" Cano was born July 23, 1933 in Ahuisculco, Jalisco, a small rural town outside of Guadalajara, Mexico...

Tito Matos Peurto Rican plena drummer Héctor "Tito" Matos was born in 1968 in Villa Palmera, a poor neighborhood of Santurce, Puerto Rico...

Lucy Stewart Scottish ballad singer Through her classic recordings, Lucy Stewart of Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire...

Pete Seeger American Folk icon Pete Seeger (1919-2014) was the dean of 20th Century folk singers. As of this writing he has...

Rahim Alhaj Iraqi oud soloist Oud soloist and composer Rahim Alhaj has carried his (roughly) five-thousand-year-old music...

Sis Cunningham Activist musician and Broadside editor Sis Cunningham (1909-2004) and her husband Gordon Friesen were born in rural Oklahoma...

John Jackson Piedmont bluesman Bluesman and songster John Jackson was born in the rural Blue Ridge Mountain foothill town...

The Paschall Brothers A cappella gospel quartet Tidewater gospel quartet is a long and proud a cappella tradition, and the...

José Gutiérrez and Los Hermanos Ochoa Sones jarochos from Veracruz Born and raised on the Costa de la Palma (Palm Coast) ranch near the town of...

Bernice Johnson Reagon Civil Rights song leader Singer, song leader, civil rights activist, and scholar, is a profound contributor to African American culture...

Los Pleneros de la 21 Afro-Puerto Rican traditions Los Pleneros de la 21 gelled as a group in 1983, when conservatory-trained percussionist...

La India Canela Dominican accordionist Lidia María Hernández López, "La India Canela," was born in El Limón, Villa González...

Arpex Conjunto de arpa grande Listen to Mexican arpa grande ensemble Arpex, and you will hear a remarkable demonstration of Michoacán's Tierra...

Suni Paz Argentinian singer and songwriter In her performances and in her life, Suni Paz has deftly combined her message of cultural awareness and...

Lord Invader Calypsonian great Born Rupert Westmore Grant in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on December 13, 1914, Grant grew up around San Fernando...

Bill Monroe Bluegrass innovator Bill Monroe is credited with inventing the high energy, fast tempo, hard-edged style of country music known as bluegrass...

Lucinda Williams Blues musician The daughter of English professor Miller Williams, Lucinda Williams was born in Lake Charles, Lousiana...

The Academy of Maqâm Central Asian Shashmaqam performers For centuries, the elegant classical music tradition known as maqâm has...

Ustad Mohammad Omar Master of Afghan classical music Ustad Mohammad Omar (1905-1980), an Afghan rabab virtuoso, helped shape what many...