It’s fitting that legendary jazz songstress-extraordinaire Billie Holiday’s (1915-1959) birthday today falls during Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). “Lady Day,” as she was known, made songs her own, lazily wrapping her emotive voice like wisps of smoke around passages with distinctive h...
April 07, 2011 | By Jeff Campagna
For the past three decades, when historians, critics and educators asked, “What is Jazz?” they turned to the 1973 Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, the landmark album by the late critic and Smithsonian historian Martin Williams. That six vinyl LP—an unprecedented collage of the "genre that re...
March 29, 2011 | By Erica R. Hendry
She was considered to be one of the finest pianists in Europe, until her younger brother Wolfgang came along
March 28, 2011 | By Elizabeth Rusch
Rising to fame with the Benny Goodman band, Gene Krupa was the first superstar drummer
March 2011 | By Owen Edwards
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bol1lyO7134Today, singer and songwriter Ella Jenkins, the “First Lady of Children’s Music,” releases her 29th Smithsonian Folkways album, A Life in Song. Music is life for Jenkins, who turned 86 last August and has been playing and performing for more than 50 years. I...
February 22, 2011 | By Jeff Campagna
Songwriters Leon Huff and Kenneth Gamble composed tunes with political messages for chart-toppers like the O’Jays and Billy Paul
February 18, 2011 | By Jim Morrison
Doris Day, Miles Davis and Devo share the stage
February 2011 | By Richard Middleton
Test Your Jazz Chops: Smithsonian Folkways just announced their forthcoming Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, which will be available beginning March 29. The collection features 111 songs on six CD's that chronicle the history of jazz music, focusing on its most notable innovators and styles, from b...
December 08, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
As the father of the electric guitar and grandfather of two members of Arcade Fire, Rey was a major influence on rock for decades
December 03, 2010 | By Anne Miller
On the night of February 18, 1965, 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson attended a civil rights rally at Zion's Chapel Methodist Church in Marion, Alabama. But when the peaceful protesters exited the church, they were met with hostile reactions from the state and local police. Jimmie and his family tried...
November 17, 2010 | By Jesse Rhodes
Inner Workings of the Space Suit: This week, the AirSpace blog exposes one of their spacesuits from the inside out using X-Ray imaging. Until now, the only way to glimpse the inside of these high-tech uniforms was to shine a flashlight down the wrist or neck of the outfit. But recently, Mark Avino,...
November 17, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
We've all seen those public service announcements on television advising you to stop smoking—and some are quite compelling, such as this 1985 ad with stage and screen actor Yul Brynner whose life was drastically cut short by lung cancer. Smoking is the most common cause of cancer death in this coun...
November 02, 2010 | By Jesse Rhodes
Just Close Enough To The Sun—This week, the folks at the "AirSpace" blog treat us to a few photos of that fiery red giant near and dear to our hearts, the sun. Using a telescope from the Public Observatory Project made especially for looking into the sun's harsh light, solar imaging expert Greg Pie...
October 20, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
Name That Kiwi—On June 15, the National Zoo hatched a female brown kiwi, the second kiwi born this year. To pay homage to New Zealand, the flightless bird's motherland, they have decided to name the chick after the Maori, the indigenous people of the islands. They have chosen three Maori names, and...
October 06, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
Think of children’s music, and costumed freaks might come to mind. Barney. The Wiggles. But songstress Elizabeth Mitchell is unassuming in appearance, and her voice is warm and inviting.Mitchell’s new album, Sunny Day, drops today on the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label (go to their Web site h...
October 05, 2010 | By Jeff Campagna
Music curator John Edward Hasse travels the globe teaching the genre that revolutionized American music
September 2010 | By Erica R. Hendry
Brazil’s music scene may be known for beats such as bossa nova, but newer sounds are making waves on the streets of Rio
August 18, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
Music Makeover: Smithsonian Folkways is offering free music downloads from three upcoming releases or reissues. One track each from Elizabeth Mitchell's new kid-friendly album Sunny Day and a reissue of bluegrass singer Ola Belle Reed's music called Rising Sun Melodies are available on the Folkway...
August 04, 2010 | By Jess Righthand
Being stuck in an elevator is never fun, but by and large when riding in one that's the biggest inconvenience you can expect.However, there was a time when these contraptions lacked the safety features we take for granted and were much deadlier. And let's face it, the notion of meeting your mortal ...
August 03, 2010 | By Jesse Rhodes
The inventor and MIT professor talks about where music and technology will intersect over the course of the next 40 years
August 2010 | By Erica R. Hendry