Folk

Before changing his name to Bob Dylan, the popular singer-songwriter was Robert Zimmerman.

What Bob Dylan Wrote in His High School Love Letters

A collection of notes from the musician to his girlfriend sold for nearly $670,000 at auction

Albert “Kid” Mertz (above: Untitled, c. 1980) painted hundreds, possibly thousands of railroad spikes he had collected from tracks near his property, giving each spike a cheerful face.

The Allure of Self-Taught Art

SAAM’s new show “We Are Made of Stories” examines the 20th-century rise and creative vision of artists who make art without formal training

“Music is a reflection of people's lives. It comes out of their experience,” says the folk musician Alice Gerrard, who will perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Friday, June 24 at 7 p.m.

Why Women's Music Embraces the Voices of Past Generations

New show examining the deep connections women make with musical tradition kicks off with a concert featuring folk star Alice Gerrard

In 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar noted that people in Britain did not eat hares due to their religious significance.

The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny

A scholar traces the folk figure's history from the Neolithic era to today

Bob Dylan, One Too Many, 2020

See Bob Dylan's Cinematic Paintings, Welded Sculptures and More

A comprehensive collection of the iconic songwriter's visual art is on display for the first time in the United States

Art collector John Foster spotted this sculpture, titled Martha and Mary, in the front yard of a St. Louis home in 2019. 

Cool Finds

Art Enthusiast Spots Long-Lost Sculpture by Black Folk Artist in Missouri Front Yard

William Edmondson had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937 but was buried in an unmarked grave following his death in 1951

The choir performs at the ruins of a mill in Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Georgia

Smithsonian Voices

Hear a Georgia Choral Group as They Rediscover the Art of Sacred Harp Singing

Students find lasting resonance in the words and simple notes of the 1869 hymn 'How Can I Keep from Singing?'

The 2,200-square-foot venue is located about ten miles inland from Ocean City, in the town of Berlin, Maryland.

New Maryland Museum Dives Into the Mythology of Mermaids

Blending history, pop culture and folklore, the attraction features a Feejee mermaid, original artworks and more

From Insects, their way and means of living.

Smithsonian Voices

Cicada Folklore, or Why We Don’t Mind Billions of Burrowing Bugs at Once

The earliest documented examples of cicada folklore come from China

A recently concluded auction featured a trove of artifacts collected by Bob Dylan's close friend Tony Glover.

Long-Hidden Trove of Bob Dylan Letters, Handwritten Lyrics Heads to Auction

The archives of harmonica player and close Dylan friend Tony Glover act as a "time capsule" of 20th-century music, says RR Auction

A digital reconstruction of the newly unearthed Norse godhouse

Cool Finds

Ruins of Eighth-Century Pagan Temple Found in Norway

The structure—built to honor Norse gods like Thor and Odin—is the first of its kind discovered in the country

Cryptids like Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch or the mis-translated "Abominable Snowman" abound in folk tales.

Why Bigfoot and the 'Abominable Snowman' Loom Large in the Human Imagination

In cultures around the world, folklore of a 'Wild Man' share a common narrative

The so-called "Letter From Heaven" was marketed as a message from Jesus himself, conveying instructions and conferring protection on those who sent them to others.

Before Chain Letters Swept the Internet, They Raised Funds for Orphans and Sent Messages From God

Recipe exchanges, poetry chains, photo challenges and other ostensibly comforting prompts are enjoying a resurgence amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Folklorists remain alert to the culture (non-biological) of the coronavirus, even as we conduct our research while quarantined. Our research will certainly evolve as the pandemic itself evolves.

Covid-19

How to Detect the Age-Old Traditions of Folklore in Today’s COVID-19 Misinformation

Smithsonian folklorist James Deutsch says the fast spread of stories and memes are cultural expressions that build cohesion and support

An artist’s depiction of Gunakadeit joseeae

215-Million-Year-Old, Sharp-Nosed Sea Creature Was Among the Last of Its Kind

Researchers gave the marine reptile the genus name <u>G</u>unakadeit in honor of a sea monster from Tlingit oral history

The six CD set Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings won a Grammy in the category for Best Historical Album. The set includes some well-known, not-so-well-known, and previously unreleased recordings spanning Seeger’s career.

Grammy Nod to Folkways’ Pete Seeger Collection Is a Fitting Tribute

The producers aim to inspire future generations to carry on the singer’s legacy

Folk musician Pete Seeger performing at the Bread and Roses III benefit concert in 1979.

From the Archives: Pete Seeger on What Makes a Great Protest Song

To mark the centennial birthday of the late folk icon, Smithsonian Folkways has released a six-CD collection featuring 20 previously unreleased tracks

The three-time winning Meryl Streep (above at the 2017 Academy Awards) with 21 nominations under her belt appears to be a rare exception to the Oscar Jinx.

A Smithsonian Folklorist Delves Into the Rituals and Rewards at the Academy Awards

Folk belief holds that if you have won one Oscar, your odds of ever winning a second are greatly diminished by the dreaded “Oscar Jinx”

Giddens with her beloved cherry, maple and rosewood minstrel banjo, a replica of a design by the 19th-century Baltimore luthier Levi Brown.

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

Rhiannon Giddens' 21st-Century Sound Has a Long History

Inspired by long-lost folk melodies, gospel, opera and bluegrass, the electrifying singer and banjo player gives fresh voice to old American traditions

At Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil is proudly lifted like  Simba high overhead by his top-hatted Groundhog Club handler. Will it be six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Only the groundhog knows.

Play a Groundhog Day Song on a Continuous Loop

Like Bill Murray, wake up to Groundhog Day everyday with the Smithsonian Folkways' groundhog playlist

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