Harry Smith and the Folk Music Revival

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Harry Smith was a major figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. His work helped to bring traditional folk music to a wider audience and influenced many subsequent folk musicians.

Harry Smith and the Folk Music Revival

In the 1930s and 1940s, American folk music enjoyed a renaissance thanks in part to the work of musician and scholar Harry Smith. Smith was a pivotal figure in the folk music revival, both as a performer and as a historian.

A self-taught musician, Smith became interested in folk music while still a child. He began collecting records in the 1920s, amassing a huge collection of78rpm discs. In 1952, he compiled this collection into an influential anthology called Anthology of American Folk Music. The anthology included songs from a wide range of genres, including country, blues, and gospel. It was an instant success with both critics and listeners, and it helped to spark a renewed interest in American folk music.

Smith continued to perform and record throughout his life, but he is best remembered for his work as a historian and curator. His passion for collecting and preserving folk music helped to ensure that this important form of American culture would not be forgotten.

The Life and Music of Harry Smith

Harry Smith was an American record collector, folklorist, avant-garde filmmaker, and recovering alcoholic. He is perhaps best known for his contributions to the Anthology of American Folk Music. The Anthology was originally released in 1952 as a set of three double-LP records on Folkways Records. It was then reissued in1997 as a six-CD box set by Smithsonian Folkways.

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1923, Harry Smith grew up in Washington state. His father was a chemist and his mother was a schoolteacher. He dropped out of high school and never attended college. He later said that he learned more from reading than he ever could have from attending school.

Smith began collecting 78 rpm records in the 1930s. By the 1940s, he had amassed a collection of some 18,000 records. In 1948, he moved to New York City, where he worked at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and continued to add to his record collection. It was during this time that he began to take an interest in folk music and began to collect folk music recordings from around the world.

The Legacy of Harry Smith’s Folk Music Revival

In 1952, Harry Smith released his Anthology of American Folk Music, which would go on to have a profound and lasting impact on the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. The Anthology was a compilation of 84 songs recorded between 1927 and 1932, culled from Smith’s personal collection of over 10,000 78 RPM records. These songs, many of which were previously unheard outside of their regions of origin, provided a window into the musical traditions of America’s working class. The Anthology would prove to be hugely influential to a new generation of folk musicians, who would use it as a blueprint for their own work.

Smith was born in Portland, Oregon in 1923. He moved to New York City in the 1940s, where he became involved in the avant-garde art scene. It was during this time that he began amassing his record collection, which would form the basis for the Anthology. In addition to his work as a compiler and curator, Smith was also a musician himself, playing both the banjo and guitar. He recorded two albums of his own music: Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music Volumes 1-5 (1961) and Oh ! Pioneers…Now (1967).

While Smith is best known for his work on the Anthology, he also had a significant impact on other aspects of American culture. He was an early champion of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, and helped to promote the work of other Abstract Expressionist artists. He also worked as a filmmaker, photographing jazz musicians in New York City’s clubs for his film Jazz Cafe (1958).

Smith died in 1991, but his influence lives on through the music that he helped to revive. The Harry Smith Center for American Folk Art at Columbia University is dedicated to preserving his legacy, and hosts an annual folk music festival in his honor.

The Music of the Folk Music Revival

In the 1950s and 1960s, a group of young music lovers in the United States began to revive interest in the folk music of earlier generations. Led by figures like Harry Smith, these folk enthusiasts collected and performed songs that had been passed down through the generations by word of mouth.

The folk music revival was an important moment in American music history. It helped to preserve the musical traditions of earlier times and to make them accessible to new audiences. The folk revival also had a strong influence on other genres of music, including rock and roll. Many of the most popular musicians of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, got their start in the folk revival.

The Influence of the Folk Music Revival

The folk music revival of the 1950s and ‘60s had a significant influence on the career of Harry Smith. As a young man, Smith was attracted to the music of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, two of the most popular folk musicians of the time. He became a part of the revival scene in New York City, where he met and played with many of the leading figures in the movement, including Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. The folk revival helped to launch Smith’s career as a musician and record producer, and he went on to play an important role in preserving and promoting traditional American folk music.

The Importance of the Folk Music Revival

In the early 1950s, Harry Smith compiled a now-legendary anthology of folk music from the 1920s and 1930s. The release of this anthology, entitled _The Anthology of American Folk Music_, was a watershed moment in the folk music revival, which sought to revive popular interest in American folk and traditional music.

The folk music revival was an important movement in American musical history. It not only helped to revive interest in America’s musical roots, but it also gave rise to some of the most important figures in American music, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

The Significance of the Folk Music Revival

The folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s was a significant cultural event that had a profound impact on American music and society. The revival brought traditional folk music to a new audience and helped to create a renewed interest in the genre. The revival also helped to preserve many traditional songs and performers that might have otherwise been lost.

The folk music revival was also significant for its political and social implications. The revived interest in folk music was often tied to left-wing politics, and many of the performers and songs associated with the revival were critical of social injustice and inequality. The folk music revival thus played an important role in the civil rights movement and other left-wing causes of the period.

The Impact of the Folk Music Revival

Harry Smith was a major player in the Folk Music Revival of the 1950s and 1960s. His 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music, released on Folkways Records, was enormously influential in sparking interest in traditional folk music among the mainstream public. The Anthology featured eighty-four songs (seventy-two on the original LP release) drawn from commercial recordings that were originally issued between 1927 and 1932. It included songs representative of a wide range of American traditional music styles, including country, blues, Cajun, gospel, and old-timey music. The liner notes accompanying theAnthology were also groundbreaking, providing extensive biographical information on the performers as well as insightful commentary on the music itself.

The Significance of Harry Smith in the Folk Music Revival

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Harry Smith was one of several eccentric characters who were influential in the American folk music revival. A native of Portland, Oregon, Smith was a self-taught record collector, filmmaker, bohemian, and intellectual who became a central figure in the Greenwich Village folk scene. His 1952 anthology Folk Songs of America was essential to the rediscovery of traditional music in the United States. Interspersed with Smith’s folk song recordings were his own introductions, which revealed his encyclopedic knowledge of American folklore, literature, and popular culture.

The Importance of the Folk Music Revival in American History

The folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s was an important event in American history. It brought about a new appreciation for the traditional music of the American people, and it helped to revive interest in the music of other cultures as well.

The revival was started by a group of young people who were interested in the music of their ancestors. They began to collect old folk songs and to learn how to play them on traditional instruments. They also encouraged others to do the same.

The revival did not happen overnight; it took several years for the movement to gain momentum. But by the early 1960s, there were folk clubs and concerts all over the country, and folk music was becoming popular again.

The revival had a major impact on American culture. It helped to create a new generation of folk musicians, who went on to influence other genres of music. It also brought about a greater appreciation for America’s musical heritage.

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